Make a positive impact with a sustainability degree
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Make a positive impact with a sustainability degree

“If we intend to provide a better life, and a better world, for future generations, we can’t ignore the quality of the environment we leave them.” – John Kasich

So much can change in a year. Imagine what can happen in 50…

We already know from billions of observations, documented through thousands of years, that the Earth’s climate has been rapidly and consistently changing. Since the birth of the Industrial Revolution back in 1880, our dependence on Fossil Fuels – including coal, oil, petroleum and natural gas – has swelled at break-neck pace, increasing the average global temperature a considerable amount.

“There’s been a global temperature rise of one degree in the past 100 years, and atmospheric CO2 has now reached the same level as during the mid-Pliocene warm period,” explains Dr Mick O’Leary of the Department of Environment and Agriculture at Curtin University.

But what would happen if we were to stop pumping colossal amounts of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere right this very second? Would harmony be restored, in both our climate and our attitude, rebooting Mother Earth to her healthy, prehistoric factory settings? If only things were that easy…

According to IFL Science, once the CO2 in the fuels we burn is released, it accumulates in the atmosphere, the oceans, land, plants and animals of the biosphere. It remains in the atmosphere for thousands of years, and will not go away, unless we do everything in our power to remove it ourselves.


Image courtesy of Curtin University

We might live in the digital age, but the world cannot be saved at the simple click of a button. It’s going to take a conscious and dedicated effort from people on all four corners of the globe to eliminate the impending threats attached to our changing climate. Education has always been a driving force for transition, with the global climate crisis urging world-class universities to pour their energy, expertise and cutting-edge resources into climate change awareness and research. And with millennials standing as the most environmentally-responsive generation that has ever lived, we are well on the way to changing our unsustainable ways and mending a broken world.

“Climate innovation is a positive space,” argues Professor Greg Morrison from the Curtin University Sustainable Policy Institute. “It’s not about climate change woes, it’s about creating economies, jobs impact and innovation around climate,” he notes. “Creating a low carbon culture, improving the sustainability of our cities, boosting efficiency and reducing waste. That’s the value proposition.”

In South America alone, issues relating to global climate change and threats to biodiversity have been exacerbated through a significant lack of protection for the region’s tropical forests. As a result, the continent is more vulnerable to climate phenomena now than ever before, with cyclones, flooding and droughts wreaking havoc in some of the world’s most impoverished nations.

The Curtin University Sustainability Policy Institute (CUSP) was established in 2008, with sustainability and environmental science standing as relatively unknown concepts in scientific understanding and endeavour. Fast-forward almost a decade, and Sustainability Policy is a well-known profession and respected research discipline. As a result, CUSP, and Curtin University as a whole, is now a recognised figure in the Australian Sustainable Development Institute (ASDI), educating future generations of sustainable change-makers and global policy shapers, committed to solving climate challenges in South America and beyond. In fact, there are a wealth of invaluable scholarship opportunities from universities, global governments and organizations worldwide, all seeking to support students of development-based studies, with a number being exclusively offered to international students from Latin America.

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Image courtesy of Curtin University

From its promotion of a stunning and innately ‘green’ campus, which serves to address specific urban challenges, as well as to increase security, to improve utilisation of energy and lower operating costs; to powerful collaborations with organisations such as CISCO – who, in partnership with Woodside Energy, has committed AU$30 million to help position Western Australia as an international hub for research and innovation – Curtin is doing all it can to build a future we can maintain. Courses include:

Giving students the tools needed to develop a solution-focused approach to major climate change issues, resource depletion and other major environmental problems.

Seeking to make a measurable contribution to economic development, social advancement and environmental protection.

Helping students develop the knowledge needed to improve water quality and supply in Australian and international communities.

Addressing challenges in the generation, transmission and distribution of electricity.

Studies the principles and practices in sustainable aquaculture, aquatic environmental management, aquaculture nutrition, food security, aquaculture technology, value-addition of aquatic products and climate change.

This course is about land use, as well as the environment, design, communication, economics, law and the needs of people and surrounding communities.

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Image courtesy of Curtin University

And with world-class programs in these subjects and beyond, Curtin is producing influential graduates in every field of the environmental and sustainability professions.

The KIC, or ‘Knowledge Innovation Community’, is the prime example of how Curtin is making waves in the sustainability field. This cutting-edge initiative, with Curtin at its heart, will see the launch of a brand-new teaching, learning, research and innovation precinct, helping fellow universities, the nation and the world alike, plan for a sustainable future. Though the ‘big picture’ for this project remains clear, the detail is fluid and constantly evolving, and the outcome depends on honest collaboration between industry, academia and society as a whole.

“We have the opportunity to create aspirational precincts – who is going to be climate neutral first?” Professor Morrison adds. “What services will be provided? And in doing so, we provide a model to roll out these innovations across society.

“…The KIC is not just about technological innovation. We also need social innovation – looking at how we behave as human beings,” Morrison concludes. “Social innovation will change the whole structure of common utilities and infrastructure. Transport is an example,” he says, “we don’t just need technological advances to create electric buses, we need to think about our experience of using public transport. How could we more profitably use our time in stations and in transit? A bus stop could be a recharging station, an internet portal, a news service…” and the list goes on.

Curtin’s dedication to a brighter global future is inspiring and undeniable. While other countries, cities and academic institutions look to Curtin as mentor, guide and leading example, we look to Curtin as a beacon of hope, empowering us with the heart-felt motivation that together, we can change the world.

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