Indian Institute of Technology Guwahati (IITG) has become the first IIT to introduce a course on UN-Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) 2030 in the Bachelor of Technology (B.Tech) curriculum from this academic year (2020-2021).
In 2015, world leaders agreed at the United Nations General Assembly to implement 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) that are meant to transform the world, building upon the principle of “leaving no one behind”. These 17 goals aim to create a better world by 2030, by ending poverty, fighting inequality, addressing the urgency of climate change and several other holistic approaches. Guided by the principles of these goals, this course provides a unique opportunity to the B.Tech students to understand the concepts of sustainability and work towards building a better society for everyone.
The course will be offered to the second year B.Tech students as a compulsory course, to reorient the thinking of young and dynamic individuals towards the path of sustainable development. Due to the interdisciplinary nature of the 17 Sustainable Development Goals, Department of Humanities and Social Sciences, the nodal department for this course, has collaborated and pooled resources from eight other departments of the Institute viz. Departments of Biosciences and Bioengineering, Civil Engineering, Chemistry, Chemical Engineering, Electronics and Electrical Engineering, Mechanical Engineering, Design and Physics – to design and implement the course. Faculty members from each of these departments will jointly conduct the course and will provide exposure to B.Tech students on the technological, economical, ecological and societal aspects of these 17 SDGs.
Prof. T. G. Sitharam, Director, IIT Guwahati, emphasised the urgent need to adopt these 17 goals as part of the curriculum so that the students who are the future leaders of the country are aware of the challenges for sustainable development and how their roles can lead to holistic development. Speaking about the introduction of this course, he said, “With only 10 more years remaining to fulfil these objectives, it becomes very vital that the students are taught about the goals of inclusive and sustainable growth and through this course, offered by faculty members from across engineering, science and humanities departments, IIT Guwahati wishes to prepare the students to play leading roles in ‘Transforming the World’”.
Prof. Anamika Barua, Course coordinator from the Department of Humanities and Social Sciences, IIT Guwahati, said, “This would be the first time the nine departments of IIT Guwahati have joined together to offer a course at the undergraduate level, realising that sustainability challenges and inclusive growth go hand-in-hand and has to be understood at the crossroads of science and society through an interdisciplinary lens”. She further added, “The students, through this course, would be educated to critically evaluate the idea of Sustainability as an emerging discipline and have an opinion on the role for India, as a nation, in the successful implementation of the new SDGs”.
Faculty members from all the nine disciplines will contribute in demonstrating the importance of adopting an interdisciplinary approach of sustainability. Several case studies will be used to demonstrate the ways of realising the SDGs and the strategies needed to move towards a sustainable pattern of development. The case studies will include topics from multiple disciplines such as growth, inclusive society, sustainable cities, transport, designs, technology, digital revolution, sustainable production & consumption etc. The course will also highlight the ways of financing the SDGs, the new financing mechanisms and global fund as well implementing SDGs through governance and policy tools.
It is envisioned that the new course will enable students to articulate the role of research for promoting Sustainable Development and meet the 169 targets as part of the 17 SDGs and how the sustainable development perspective relates to her/his own work and career goals.
Speaking about the intension behind the course, Prof. Vimal Katiyar, involved in designing the course and from the Department of Chemical Engineering, IIT Guwahati, said, “With this course, IIT Guwahati intends to nurture budding technocrats through sustainable technological practices to achieve an environmentally benign, safe and inclusive industrial ecosystem and foster innovations for the development of a sustainable society. This course would further embark upon a student’s perception towards choosing ecologically accountable employment.”
The course on SDGs will enable students to realise the importance of a stable relationship between human activities and the natural world for a healthy, clean and safe environment, and, thus, make them responsible individuals and the world a better place for inclusive growth and overall prosperity.