Transforming Higher Education for a Sustainable Tomorrow

The first session of Coffee World was held yesterday, the 25th of October 2010 at 4.00pm. The theme of discussion was sustainability. Around 12 people turn up for the discussion, we hope the crowd will slowly increase as sessions continue.The session was moderated by Mr. Fariz and Mr. Sharan Srinivas of Right Livelihood College.
Like an aged engine, the session started off a little slow but began to warm up and sparked intense discussion on Sustainability and everything pertaining to it.
Among the questions raised and points made during this Coffee World session were:
1. On the definition of Sustainability, most agreed that the definitions provided (there were several) were ambiguous, however, all agreed that the spirit of sustainability touched on the lasting effects of our actions now (in the present) on the quality and standard of living of generations in the future. Whether we, a developing nation, can achieve developed nation status without compromising our natural resources, Also if it is acceptable to exhaust our natural resources (similar to what the current developed nations have done) in the name of development?
2. Is USM truly a Sustainable University? in terms of providing Grants for its research students to produce ‘sustainable research’. Lack of recycle bins and recycling activities on campus were among questions raised.
3. When implementing Eco-friendly policies like banning polystyrene and plastic bags on campus (White Coffin), is there help provided by the University to ensure the effort is continuous?
4. KPI vs Sustainability led University? Can we achieve success in both without compromising the integrity of the other?
Though these were unanswered questions, the fact that they were asked showed that these postgraduate students were concerned about issues outside the boundaries of their research and school and that even though there isn’t one clear answer or solution for the question posed, the fact that they were asked is a stepping stone to improvement.
As the discussion progress, the topic of discussion trickled on to other issues which go hand in hand with the efforts to achieve true sustainability and also garnered strong opinions from participants. However, as the sun began to set, so did the discussion. All agreed that the discussion brought up some interesting points which should be looked into further and put forth in a constructive manner to, hopefully make a difference years to come.

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