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Driving Higher Education for Global Action

At the "Driving Higher Education for Global Action" panel at the Thailand Pavilion during COP28, the discussion centered around the pivotal role education plays in shaping the future generations of students and their efforts toward climate change. As the climate emergency continues to evolve and disrupt, educational institutions are not exempt. We are gradually transitioning from traditional methods of education to embrace a new and GREATer future. Panelists from a variety of diverse backgrounds and fields unanimously agree on one key point: in one way or another, education is the cornerstone of climate and sustainable efforts.


Higher education can be a GREAT source of knowledge, and provide the environment for which students can grow their interests. However, conventional methods of teaching such as lecturing may no longer be adequate in both stimulating students or providing them with applicable experience and knowledge when it comes to sustainability. Integrating sustainability goals and environmentalism into education and the system itself is not only possible but necessary. Nonetheless, it is vital that they also be tailored to specific fields so that students can apply that same information in real world scenarios.

One of the panelists, Pamela Conrad from Harvard University of Graduate Design, states that instilling sustainable initiatives into students as well as helping them understand the root issues are vital. Courses should reflect how student’s field of study are involved in the climate emergency, simultaneous to equipping them with climate related knowledge that can be applied in possible future careers. Educational institutions should strive to be a stimulating environment that boosts student’s own initiatives so that they can take their own goals and move forward with them independently. Harleen Marwah, MD MS from the University of Pennsylvania, reiterates this by stating that providing both a breadth of ways for students to get involved as well as a depth of ways creates an environment where everyone can contribute. Early integration of these concepts into their education allows for easier implementation later on, building a stronger and GREATer generation of climate leaders. Nonetheless, changing the integration of knowledge is only one approach; Supot Teachavorasinskun, a professor from Chulalongkorn University, states that universities need to supply students with opportunities to put their knowledge to practice. The responsibility falls onto educators as well as the institutions. As the landscape of education change, teachers should strive to become role models for their students and lead by example.


Digitization has become one of the largest disrupters of educations as it allows for knowledge previously limited to academics to now be accessible to all. With the center of education now more distributed, the role of universities have changed. To effectively survive, they must engage in both real world projects and collaboration across disciplines. Mr. Pipit Aneaknithi from Kasikorn Bank addresses the concern of how banks can make more climate sustainable choices in the future by equipping frontline people with knowledge concerning decarbonization. The role of the bank is to become a good reactor and catalyst for climate action, which cannot be achieved without cross departmental collaboration. Beth Martin from Washington University highlights two key topics; one being the role that institutions play in helping students think across disciplines, and the role they have in engaging with the economy and how this can help aid in collaboration with practitioners. Exposing students to different departments and fields is crucial in today’s economic and sustainable business landscape. Institutions need to provide them with ample opportunity to mingle with a variety of perspectives, broadening their horizons to future avenues of collaboration produces GREATer chances of success.

As the complexity of the climate issue continues to grow, the disruptive nature it has on education is inevitable and unavoidable. Institutions must adapt and effectively use this as an opportunity to improve the system, implementing new methods of teaching that engage both students and educators into real world conversations surrounding climate and sustainability. Conventional methods of education like lectures may no longer be enough, especially in the context of applying the knowledge to future career endeavors. To properly prepare students, institutions can no longer rely on the traditional higher education system. Instead, by embracing this GREAT chance for change, they can make the next generation of thinkers.

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