The Future is in their hands – Sustainability in Education
What role will today’s school children and young adults play in improving the built environment of tomorrow? How do they perceive the environment around them and will they step up when it is their turn to take guardianship of our planet’s future? The urban environment viewed as a microcosm through a smartphone screen, dissected on social networks and catalogued on the World Wide Web may provide a wealth of knowledge and understanding of an unsustainable situation, but it rarely deals with the complexity and nuance that a carefully considered education programme could deliver.
Stephen George + Partners, in partnership with The Heaven Company, is embarking on what could be a revolutionary ten week education-programme involving groups of Key Stage 3 & 4 – Year 7 to 10 students at a few select and forward thinking schools in the South, Midlands and North of England. Working hand in hand with the principles of The Heaven Company’s Brief Cases programme we are delivering a thought-driven and innovative programme asking students about their understanding of the built environment today, what it means to them and what the future holds. Moreover – and this is the really important part – what they think they can do to influence change for the better.
Young people are not subject to the same complexities of the real world as adults and therefore their thoughts and ideas are often uninhibited. In reaching out to young people, we hope the approach will lead to new ways of thinking for many of those participating. We want to harness this unfettered youthful exuberance and deliver it in a group situation, providing everyone with the opportunity to contribute whilst also understanding the importance of working in a team and their own individual role within it. Developed around the Crest Award system, led by business and delivered collaboratively with our business partners, we will investigate the questions of sustainability, design criteria, construction and lifecycle use.
From an architectural perspective we are honoured – and in some cases should be humbled – to be part of the environment we create around us. Stephen George + Partners, alongside every other architectural firm working throughout the world, has a direct impact on every step of an individual’s journey through life. Architecture is powerful, thought provoking and wide reaching. How we get the next generation engaged in it is critical for the future of the planet.
Whilst mainstream academia and professional educators should continue to lead the process, it is increasingly evident that business, too, has a fundamental role to play in helping the next generation by working hand in hand with schools and higher education establishments. Subsequently we are prepared to consider individually sponsoring the right young person with vision – embracing all that is good and positive about the future changes in our environment whilst we repair the damage that has been done over the past few decades.