Did you know the Students for Environmental Action at the University of Zimbabwe are changing the world? "No Way," you say to yourself? Well, the things they are doing are not unique to the University of Zimbabwe, or to university campuses. Anyone can do these things! Does your school have an environmental organization? If yes, then maybe you can get some ideas from these guys on how to go about changing the world. If no, then now's the time to start one! Remember Sampson who you met in my article this week? Sampson, or rather Mr. President- well President of the Students for Environmental Action at the University of Zimbabwe- and his friends started their own environmental organization.
So, how do they get their work done? The Students for Environmental Action meet periodically as a group, but most of their work and decision making is done in smaller task groups. These task groups are based on their four goals. Each group works on a different aspect. So, what are the goals?
Here is a description of the four task groups as stated in an "official statement" from the group:
1. Meaning of curricula: The main goal of this task group is to realize that every individual at the University should have an understanding of the relationship between his/her field of study and the environment- Apart from integration on environmental issues in most of the curricula there is also need for the development of interdisciplinary environmental courses at the University and this group will work towards attaining such a goal.
So, this first group actually works with the teachers and the administration to influence what is being taught in the classrooms. Instead of the teachers telling them what they should be learning, these students are going to the teachers and saying "Hey, this is what is important to US, the next generation." I wish I'd thought of that when I was in school!
2. Campus greening: The aim of this task group is to promote positive environmental practice within the University. The University should serve as a role model in society for good environmental conduct. Activities will include open discussions on how to keep the University clean and raising awareness on the responsibility of members of the University community towards the caring on the environment at the University. Promoting a recycling culture and the University, energy awareness and many other projects which will lead to the University attaining a good environment and having activities, which are environmentally friendly.
Again, they're working with their administration. Who makes decisions about recycling or energy awareness at your school? Do you use energy saving lightbulbs or low flow nozzles in the showers? Are your schools lawns free of harmful pesticides? If not, why not?
3. University and society: This task group will aim to encourage more
participation of the University's society on environmental issues in
society. The group hopes to attain this by spreading environmental facts to the society, encouraging more research on environmental problems currently being encountered in society and working towards providing solutions to these problems. The group also hopes to spread information of recent research on environmental issues to the broader public through organizing public lectures. The group also aims to involve students in policy formulations on environmental issues in the society.
Here, the students actually go out into their communities to promote change. Throughout history, student movements have led the way to great changes by inspiring the rest of society to think differently. Now it's your turn. Sampson reminded me that this isn't just about preaching, but about empowering: "We want to give people the feeling that they have the capacity to think for themselves, to come up with solutions themselves. Because now people think solutions are things that are given to them by someone else."
4. Networking: This task group is mainly to enhance cooperation between the students for environmental action and other student organizations around the world working on environmental issues as well as other NGOs and government departments working on environmental issues. The group aims to achieve some of this by encouraging discussions through Internet networks among people working on environmental issues as well as maintaining an informative Web site.
Hey, we know all about Web sites! The internet is a great tool for staying in touch with environmental organizations and keeping up-to-date about all the latest issues. Here are a few internet resources that Sampson, Raj, and I recommend to you. Please share with me others that you come across.
People's Global Action (a group that works to resist the control of the WTO)
Listservers-where you can subscribe to receive frequent news updates on
different issues (warning: don't subscribe to too many at one time or you'll
never get off your computer!!)
Ok, now you've got the tools you need and you're ready! Go out there and make a difference!