Sustainable development

What are we going to do about the problems of today such as climate change, loss of species and habitats, and persistent poverty, hunger and conflict? What concept or idea addresses all these complex issues simultaneously? The simple answer is: Sustainable Development.

Just over 30 years ago, the UN World Commission on Environment and development (chaired by Gro Harlem Brundtland) defined sustainable development as "a development that meets the needs of the current generation without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs." However, what does this definition mean in real and practical terms? How can we identify and meet the needs of people across the planet whilst also thinking about our eco-systems and the planet at large? And how can we ensure that future generations inherit a planet that provides for their needs in the future? This is where the study of Sustainable Development (SD) can help us find answers so that we can understand a) what this universal goal entails, and b) what we need to consider and introduce in order to bring about a meaningful shift in attitudes and behaviours.

The SD team within the School of Geography & SD is at the cutting edge of SD theory and practice and is delighted to offer a summer school module that not only introduces students to the basic concept and discourse of SD, but also helps students explore and discuss a number of ‘real life’ examples of SD practice, many of which are right on our St Andrews doorstep. These practical examples will allow students an insight into the challenges and opportunities of SD and the module will inspire students to explore these and other SD initiatives further once they return home.

The module benefits from a wide range of expertise from staff within the School of Geography & SD as well as stakeholders representing local SD initiatives and field trips to gain practical exposure to local SD initiatives. The course is designed as an inter-active, engaging and hands-on learning experience: students will have the opportunity to work in small groups and prepare (and present) a team poster on an SD topic of their choice. The main objective of the course is to inspire students to think outside the box and to not only understand the key challenges but also to consider and explore pathways and opportunities towards a better, more sustainable future. 

Students will receive an official certificate from the University of St Andrews to confirm their successful completion of the course.