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📰 Press release - Higher education: only 15% of institutions ready to train all their students in environmental issues

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February 1, 2021. In a new report, the collective Pour un réveil écologique reveals that only 15% of French higher education institutions are committed to taking ecological issues into account in the training of all their students, despite the decisive impact of these issues on their personal and professional lives.

The report "L'écologie aux rattrapages" is available here.

The report "L'écologie aux rattrapages" analyzes the commitments of 39 universities, engineering schools and business schools by evaluating the integration of environmental issues in their training and operations. The study is based on the responses of these institutions to the "grand baromètre de la transition écologique", a national survey by the collective Pour un réveil écologique. The survey covers a broad scope, focusing on the 6 levers used by institutions to act on ecological issues: strategy and governance, training, professional opportunities, research activities, community life and campus sustainability.

The report shows an improvement in the consideration given to environmental issues over the last two years. However, these advances are heterogeneous and fall far short of what students need to understand the ecological crisis and to fight, depending on their field, against climate change, the collapse of biodiversity or pollution problems.

The report states that :

  • Only 15% of higher education institutions declare that they are ready to train all their students in ecological issues;
  • Institutions are currently focusing mainly on greening their campuses (waste recycling, energy efficiency of buildings, etc.), leaving aside their other levers for action. In particular, the integration of environmental issues into training in the strict sense of the term is still in its infancy: it is mainly limited to specialized courses, affects only a small proportion of students and too often takes the form of awareness modules instead of in-depth courses;
  • Business and engineering schools are beginning to transform themselves in the face of the ecological emergency. Business and engineering schools are beginning to transform themselves in the face of the ecological emergency. However, they are struggling to question their teaching even when it is incompatible with the management of ecological issues: economic paradigm based on infinite growth, technosolutionism, etc. ;
  • Universities suffer from a compartmentalized mode of organization, and find it difficult to generalize the integration of ecological issues within each department.
  • Students make up for the lack of training through associative commitments and self-training, practices that mainly concern the grandes écoles.

Throughout this report, the Pour un réveil écologique collective highlights a certain number of good practices identified within the establishments, to encourage them to continue and share their efforts. In addition, it points out the urgent need for the human and financial resources essential to initiate the transformations that will allow for a real training of students that is equal to the ecological emergency.

For Caroline Mouille, co-pilot of the study at Pour un réveil écologique and a student at an agricultural engineering school: "We absolutely must be seriously trained in the ecological issues that are transforming the professions for which we are being prepared. This must be the very essence of our studies: to make us responsible citizens and professionals, capable of making informed decisions in our respective fields. For the moment, this is not the case."

According to Amélie Deloche, co-pilot of the study at Pour un réveil écologique and a young business school graduate, "We are still being told about growth at all costs, without questioning existing economic models. We should be talking about green finance and ecological accounting, which take into account our impact on nature, beyond the financial stakes".

The report "Ecology Catching Up" is available here.

The summary of the report is available here.


ABOUT THE COLLECTIVE FOR AN ECOLOGICAL AWAKENING

The collective Pour un réveil écologique is at the origin of the eponymous Manifesto, launched in September 2018 by students from grandes écoles (Ecole Polytechnique, HEC Paris, AgroParisTech, ENS Ulm, Sciences Po, CentraleSupélec) and signed by more than 30,000 students from over 400 higher education institutions.

Pour un réveil écologique provides students and young graduates with tools for :

  • work for employers whose environmental strategy is equal to the ecological emergency ;
  • coordinate and support the efforts of students who encourage the integration of environmental issues into their training.

More information on pour-un-reveil-ecologique.org