Developing ecological awareness at St. Xavier’s College Kolkata
The main agenda of this year’s summit was to create more awareness and knowledge amongst teachers and students on environmental concerns, especially on water-related disasters in South Asia. (Story – UCAN)
Dr Xavier Savarimuthu, SJ, head of the Department of Environment Studies at Saint Xavier’s College Kolkata in India, said the college has signed an agreement with well-known water conservationist Rajendra Singh to take up river conservation programs.
Dr Savarimuthu, who organized theGlobal Earth Summit IV last summer, recently spoke with Ecojesuit and shared the outcomes from the conference and the various water security concerns tackled during this year’s summit.
The main agenda of this year’s summit was to create more awareness and knowledge amongst teachers and students on environmental concerns, especially on water-related disasters in South Asia.
Dr Singh, the waterman of India (in the pic.),effectively presented the agenda “water for all” at the Summit.The core message of Dr Singh to the participants was that “no man is an island,” especially with rising sea levels. He shared about his work of converting desert areas into running rivers, and showed how small steps in the right direction can make a huge difference.
Dr Savarimuthu pointed out the conscious shift in the composition of the participants in the last Summit. While teachers and students of Saint Xavier’s Kolkata were the main participants, Jesuits working in the South Asian Conference were invited and selected based on their involvement in their ecological works. Other Jesuits working with students and in the grassroots also joined and deepened the knowledge base.
A group of 20 students did research to write an article about the impacts of climate change and water-related disasters, to be published in the departmental journal.
“This will become teaching materials for the undergraduates in the coming year. The students were also actively involved in the production of a four-minute documentary on climate change and water-related disasters,” said Dr Savarimuthu, a professor of microbiology.
He explained how the students witnessed the impact of climate change during the field trip to the Sunderbans-Biosphere Reserve – one of the areas worst affected by global warming and climate change. It showed them the corrosion that has taken place and the mitigation measures taken up by government.
“For Saint Xavier’s College, it is another effort in developing better human beings – men and women for others – not just academically trained people, and learn how to be ‘ecological warriors’ so to speak,” the priest said.
The Global Earth Summit began with the objective of spreading ecological awareness among students of Saint Xavier’s so that they could engage with experts from the frontlines and learn on the job.
“Jesuits are like candles, we merely ignite minds with knowledge, helping dispel the darkness of ignorance. As educationists, we help spread awareness about environmental issues and our institutions are at the forefront of teaching sustainability by example,” said Dr Savarimuthu.
He cited that Saint Xavier’s College, Kolkata, is a no-plastic, carbon neutral, alternative energy proponent (and producer), and is working towards rainwater harvesting.
“Sustainable living should be the core of our efforts, which will address the concerns related to both environment and combating poverty. This can be done only if we move back to our Jesuit root of taking knowledge to the grassroots so that the one who is the most vulnerable is aided, empowered, and elevated,” he concluded.