African universities' united response to climate change
In response to the United Nations’s decade of education for sustainable development, the United Nations Environmental Programme, Unesco and the Association of African Universities (AAU) and other partners launched an initiative across African universities, known as Mainstreaming Environment and Sustainability in African Universities (Mesa).
According to Dr Akpezi Ogbuigwe, head of environmental education, who spoke at the AAU conference last week, , Mesa has drawn on a community of scholars, researchers, teachers, students, government officials in higher education, private sector and civil society.
About 200 faculty members from over 15 departments, including chemistry, earth sciences, engineering, biology, public health and medicine, government, business, economics, religion and law, work to advance mainstreaming sustainability concerns at their universities.
Ogbuigwe said Mesa works with universities to:
- Build additional capacity for the systematic integration of environmental concerns into a wide range of disciplines, faculties, programmes and courses in universities;
- Integrate these concerns into university policies, management practices and student activities;
- Establish themselves as knowledge generators and disseminators that address African realities and development needs;
- Enhance existing capacities and networks; and
- Enhance Africa’s preparedness for climate change.
At least 50 university courses were revised towards sustainable development. There is a regional network of 200 academics from 65 universities in 32 countries.
Other outcomes include changes in research, curriculum and teaching practice; networking among countries, increased engagement with e-learning; a systematic approach to change
initiatives in universities, supported by Mesa; and business-university-community partnerships.