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Sunday, December 5, 2021

UCT introduces an environmental sustainability course


The University of Cape Town (UCT) has for the first time launched a new online orientation that introduces first-year residence students to environmental sustainability on campus. 

Online learning has become a norm in the world as everyone battles with the coronavirus pandemic that has hit the world by storm.

“The four-module course introduces students to sustainable living as well as the university’s sustainability programmes and focus,” said UCT Vice-Chancellor Mamokgethi Phakeng.

She said the fire that engulfed parts of the campus shows the close relationship between people and their environment. 

Students at UCT were evacuated after the fire gutted several structures, including part of the Rhodes Memorial restaurant and a library.

“The course will look at the relationship of the students to the built environment they inhabit on campus. The aim is to help first-years understand and manage their environmental footprint as students at UCT and as citizens of the world,” said Phakeng. 

The vice-chancellor said the online course was developed by Manfred Braune, the director of Environmental Sustainability in her office, and Glenn von Zeil, the manager of student housing in the Department of Student Affairs, assisted by the Centre for Innovation in Learning and Teaching (CILT).

“Sustainability is key to all UCT activities and one of three pillars that anchor UCT’s Vision 2030, a strategy to create a fair and just future through fully realised human potential,” said Braune. 

The four modules consist of one or more videos and reading material and ends with a short question to test knowledge. 

At the end, there is a multiple-choice quiz and two group activities relating to sustainability at UCT. 

“UCT is committed to setting ambitious goals for its campuses of net-zero carbon, energy, water and waste-to-landfill by 2050,” said Braune. 

Braune said a key component to this strategy is enabling the campus to become a living lab for students and staff as we work towards these transformative goals.

“To reinforce the health and wellness factors immediately at play, the online course features a section on COVID-19 protocols and guidelines for students, especially those in residences,” said Braunes. 

Braunes said the course links students to UCT’s world-leading research hubs and departments that are closely aligned with environmental sustainability. 

“These have contributed significantly to research and to growing human capital in this area,” added Braunes. 

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