IIT Madras establishes School of Sustainability to tackle global challengestext_fields
Chennai: The Indian Institutes of Technology (IIT), Madras, have formally launched a School of Sustainability, with the primary objective of providing interdisciplinary sustainability courses, fostering collaborative research to confront significant challenges, and creating a platform for events and technologies that promote practical application and policy development.
The school's agenda includes offering sustainability courses, an interdisciplinary Master's program, and a variety of capacity-building courses related to sustainability, both in-person and online, for professionals.
Apart from educational endeavours, the school's primary focus will be on scientific research, technology advancement, real-world project execution, and policy consultancy activities.
This initiative aims to gather faculty members from diverse departments and research centres within the Institute to work collectively towards sustainability goals.
During the inauguration, Jayant Sinha, Member of Parliament and Chairperson of the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Finance, serving as the chief guest, underlined the urgency of addressing climate change and extreme weather events. He emphasised the necessity for innovative solutions in these challenging times.
"Today, the world is on fire. If you have seen the research, we have had the warmest September on record, and it's warmer not just by 0.5 degrees centigrade but much warmer than people had anticipated. We are in 2023, experiencing the warmest year that humanity has ever experienced. We have seen that in the extreme weather events across the world this year, from the fires in Canada to the flash floods in Sikkim. We do not know what once in a 100 years is going to bring," he said.
Kala Vairavamoorthy, Executive Director of the International Water Association, pointed out the significant transformation occurring in the water sector towards adopting a low-carbon approach and transitioning to a circular economy.
Professor Kala Vairavamoorthy highlighted, "In the water sector, we are witnessing a major transition. We are increasingly moving towards more environmentally friendly ways of conducting our operations. Historically, the water sector was carbon-intensive. However, with substantial investments, particularly in the Global South, there is an opportunity to reconstruct and reimagine our water infrastructure in a more environmentally friendly manner. Additionally, we are witnessing a shift towards a circular economy, a significant trend in the water sector."
The School of Sustainability's noteworthy initiatives include the introduction of a minor course in sustainability in 2024, available to all IIT-Madras students. Furthermore, within the next 3-5 years, the school plans to roll out an Integrated Dual Degree Program (IDDD) focused on Sustainability, offering a comprehensive Master's degree program with a thesis project.
The school's research will span various domains, including decarbonization, human settlements, modelling and scenario development, and behavioural and industrial change. In each of these domains, the school will actively engage in scientific research, product development, pilot projects, and policy advisory activities, contributing to critical dialogues such as Climate Finance.