Dr Rob Wallach

This course introduces some of the diverse topics around sustainability and the future of the environment. The aim is to raise awareness and discuss issues. The course does not attempt to prescribe solutions as action will have to be tackled by those taking the course (and discussion by participants is an integral feature), as well as many, many others, both now and in the future for decades to come.

The focus in the first half of the course is to identify and explore various global issues that currently need to be addressed to ensure sustainability and so topics such as population, migration, health, cities, water, food and the digital age are included. Economic and biological aspects are not covered in any depth even though they too are complementary and equally essential in providing robust ways forward. Any student with interests in these areas would be warmly welcome to participate and to contribute. The second half of the course focuses on the need to provide sustainable energy, and alternative energy sources are introduced since decisions currently are being, and will need to continue to be, taken to replace conventional fossil fuels. A breakdown of the lectures follows.

Intended Audience

Those who are concerned about the future of mankind and life on earth – as well as their own future – and who wish to gain greater awareness of, and to discuss, topical issues and possible ways to make improvements. The approach will be interactive so that those taking the course can contribute by sharing their own particular interests or concerns. The material included provides information on topics that increasingly are raised in public debates or in the media (especially in news and current affairs programmes), although not always with the necessary data or insights! Hence the course aims to provide background and knowledge in some key crucial areas pertaining to global sustainability. The approach on alternative energy is not primarily scientific or engineering in content but necessarily includes relevant considerations.

Previous Knowledge

An open mind is needed, together with a willingness to enjoy and be interested in exploring topical issues facing mankind. It would be advantageous to be aware of the scientific approach (e.g. to at least high school chemistry and/or physics levels) but the course is not confined to those majoring in science or engineering and should be accessible to all.