Uni degree will educate future disruptors

Alison stunt

Student Alison Stunt says the college’s approach is about experiencing nature, not just reading about it

Climate disruptors of the future will be trained by a new training course, a company involved in the scheme has said.

Black Mountains College in Talgarth, Powys has launched a BA in sustainable futures.

It worked with Cardiff Metropolitan University, the Brecon Beacons National Park and industrial partners.

The college claims the course is the world’s first devoted entirely to climate action and was a response “to the climate and environmental emergency”.

The course will be partly classroom-based, but will also include industry internships and outside teaching at the college’s farm campus.

It also encompasses the natural landscape, senses and art – students are encouraged to immerse themselves in nature – feeling, listening and even tasting the world around them. The idea is to reinforce the knowledge they learn and forge a deep connection with the world around them.

CEO Ben Rawlance said the college is founded on the ethos that climate change is not just a scientific problem, but “a problem of human behavior, values, systems, politics and economics”.

Jodie Bond from Brecon Beacons National Park Authority said: “The wildlife and climate emergencies are hugely important.

“We can’t face these big challenges we face as a society alone, we have to work together.”

Jodi Bond

Jodie Bond has welcomed the “natural” partnership between Brecon Beacons National Park and the new course

Mr Rawlance said the world of work was already changing, with companies employing sustainability and climate officers, and this course was about “giving students the tools to envision a different future”.

“These young people will be highly valued by the industry because they will have that holistic world view,” he added.

“They come to understand how change comes about and are trained in organizational change theories.”

Those skills include critical thinking, creativity, communication, collaboration, and compassion.

One of the industry partners is consulting firm Accenture, which employs 750,000 people worldwide.

Key Accountability Peter Lacy said there was an “insatiable” demand for sustainability and system change expertise.

“[Demand] will increase exponentially for the kind of disruptors that can bring new thinking, new solutions to problems.”

A view of the Black Mountains

Students spend part of their course learning in nature

Alison Stunt, who studies horticulture at the college, said the approach wasn’t purely intellectual: “It’s not academic in that way, it’s not learning from books.

“It’s learning by being out in nature and experiencing things with our whole body, rather than just reading about it and knowing it intellectually.”

Mr Rawlance admitted that it was very difficult for people “who are trained in these very strict courses to get our heads around” but was “obvious to young people who are coming up now”.

“So this is not only urgent and necessary, but it also responds to the market. This is what the kids want.”

Black Mountains College has received over £500,000 in lottery funding and is in the process of securing £1.5m in social investment to fund the launch of the course.

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