By Zindzi Nkunzi
Rhodes University Environmental Learning and Research Centre (ELRC) recently hosted a welcoming launch in celebration of the new qualification, the Postgraduate Diploma in Sustainability Learning [PGDip (SL)].
The programme is jointly coordinated at Rhodes University by the ELRC within the Department of Secondary and Post-School Education and by the Department of Environmental Science.
This interdisciplinary programme is designed for professionals already in their field of work in any area of social-ecological sustainability, or for graduates seeking a capstone qualification. The course is offered over two years part-time.
PGDip (SL) Coordinator and Associate Professor Lausanne Olvitt extended a warm welcome to all attendees and distinguished guests.“This is a unique opportunity for practitioners from all disciplinary backgrounds to explore, debate and co-create quality sustainability learning processes in their own work or community settings”, she said.
Prof Olvitt further described the programme as "a pathway to further postgraduate studies and an alternative route to a Masters in Environmental Education and others".
Head of the Department of Secondary and Post-School Education, Dr Kavish Jawahar, extended a hand of appreciation to Prof Olvitt and Dr Jessica Cockburn from the Department of Environmental Science. He acknowledged their hard work in putting together this new qualification. "I am privileged that it has come to fruition in my time as Head of the Department. It is really exciting to have this new qualification as part of the Department of Secondary and Post-School Education offerings."
Dr Jawahar expressed, "The important part of the evening is to celebrate the people who have made it into this first cohort of the programme."
Expressing more gratitude for the collaboration between the two departments, the Department of Secondary and Post-School Education and Department of Environmental Science, Head of the Department of Environmental Science Associate Professor Gladman Thondhlana referred to them as "seeds of collaboration".
"This programme presents an opportunity to work with practitioners who will then translate this knowledge into practice wherever they work, so they will be agents of change wherever they will be working," he said.
In her brief speech, the Dean of Education, Professor Eureta Rosenberg, extended a special acknowledgement to the two distinguished Professors who attended the launch, Distinguished Professor Charlie Shackleton and Distinguished Professor Heila Lotz-Sisitka. "We are very privileged to have them in our midst," she said.
She continued, "The beautiful thing about environmental work now is that it is recognised. It is relevant everywhere, from the highest boardrooms to the most difficult circumstances in rural areas, townships and cities. It is no longer an elite concern as it might have been 30-40 years ago."
One of the new students of the programme, Pietermaritzburg research intern Mbali Ntuli stated, "I am hoping to learn more about sustainability and to be able to use this course for community development and to gain tools to educate people".
Namibian Environmental Educator and community volunteer, Ester Hango, said, "I want to learn other disciplines that I have to apply to my current practices. I believe that the course will improve my knowledge and skills".
"Let us keep working towards a sustainable and inclusive world for all," Prof Rosenberg concluded.