Without a doubt, online learning offers a flexible and more personalised learning experience for those who cannot attend an on-campus university. However, have you ever considered the contribution of online learning to sustainable development? Read below to find out how responsible education helps the environment.
Let’s clear things up
Sustainability is a buzzword, and it’s surely more than just saving the environment or reducing the use of plastics. While sustainability can be described as a long-term goal, sustainable development refers to the processes involved to achieve sustainability. The United Nations (UN) defines Sustainable Development as: ’’Development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs”.
To date, the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, developed by the UN, announced an urgent call-for-action through the 17 UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The proposed goals added to our sustainability list a few more terms such as – economic growth, well-being, improved education, social inclusion, quality education and end of poverty. Taking its lead from six of the UN SDGs and Africa 2063 aspirations; Unicaf, as a leading online higher education provider, published its Responsible and Sustainable Business Plan 2021-2025. Through its statement of commitment, Unicaf intends to increase the positive impact on the quality and availability of higher education in Africa and support economic development and environmentally sustainable practices across the continent. Given that higher education is a knowledge producer, its contribution to the SDGs is key. Higher education and the UN need to work together to move towards effective sustainable development behaviours.
Can e-learning boost sustainable development?
Although Covid-19 has shifted all on-campus learning into virtual classrooms – it is still a controversy whether online learning is the new norm or not. The current figures of enrolled e-students worldwide show that e-learning has earned its own place within higher education. Specifically, on top of flexibility, affordability, personalised learning, credibility, and access to unlimited e-resources; online learning can boost sustainable development practices. In contrast with on-campus learning, find below a few leading areas in which e-learning boosts an organisation’s eco-friendly behaviours:
- Reduces the need for paper use which saves up trees
- Saves energy consumption by decreasing on-campus electricity and other facilities
- Less air pollution by minimising travelling to campus and/or abroad (international students)
Unicaf University (UU) is a great example of a sustainable university. UU is a proud member of the Association of University Leaders for a Sustainable Future (ULSF). Its sustainable practices lie within its innovative online learning model. Specifically, through this mode of learning, UU promotes paperless behaviours, reduction on-campus waste, water consumption and reduces carbon dioxide emissions by employing online learning processes.
Sustainable development behaviour meets Public Health
Public Health focuses on well-being, ensures access to the underlying determinants of good health such as clean water, healthy and nutritious food, clean air, and a healthcare prevention system. On top of that, Public Health contributes to reducing health-related inequalities across the community.
‘’At its core, the issue of a clean environment is a matter of public health”
– Gina McCarthy, Administrator for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
Can you recognise any indicators of Public Health based on this definition? Read below to find out.
As the image shows above, SDG 3, aims to ‘’ensure health and wellbeing in all ages’’, SDG 2 focuses on hunger and SDG 6, “ensure(s) availability and sustainable management of water and sanitation for all”. Finally, SDG 11, stresses to “make cities and human settlements inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable”. These are just a few reasons why Public Health is key when it comes to sustainable development strategies.
Through a Unicaf Scholarship, you can study for an online MSc in Public Health from the University of Suffolk, UK and make an impact on your community and the environment. Already more than 43,000 students have benefitted from the Unicaf Scholarship Programme. Begin your university journey now.