Sustainability: Issues, Challenges and Prospects

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As part of the Universiti Sains Malaysia´s (USM) effort to embed sustainability in the curriculum, the Centre for Global Sustainability Studies (GCSS) offers a new elective course WSU 101 (Sustainability: Issues, challenges and prospects) which introduces key concepts of global sustainability and engages students in team work and project-based learning. In the academic year 2014-15, over 500 students have enrolled at this course showing the increasing interest of students in this global agenda. RCE Penanghas been offered the opportunity to collaborate with GCSS and is currently supervising the research studies and projects of 50 students coming from Education, Communication, Social Sciences and Mathematics backgrounds.

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Examples  of  Students'  Projects

1. A research study on student perceptions in and attitudes towards sustainability

This study explores the perceptions in and attitudes towards sustainability of 100 third-year students at USM. The findings attest that there is an increasing interest and enhanced understanding of sustainability issues among the USM student community, partly due to USM efforts in embedding sustainability in teaching and learning. However, it also shows that sustainability concepts and perceptions do not always translate into students´ daily actions.

2. An engagement project in sustainability for primary and secondary schools in Penang

Project team leaders have worked hard to design an awareness raising event for primary and secondary schools in Penang. The event will take place on 30 May 2015 and will be attended by 80 students from 7 different schools. Primary and secondary school students will be involved in an eco-trail, specially designed for them, to better understand how USM biodiversity is promoted and conserved.

3. A critical inquiry on food waste at three USM restaurants

This research seeks to understand students’ and restaurant managers’ perceptions on food waste. WSU 101 students carried out their research in three restaurants at USM and interviewed managers and students eating in these cafeterias. Findings suggest that although there is awareness on food waste and leftovers among students and managers, there is a lack of policies or communication campaigns which can help reduce the amount of food wasted in a daily basis.