The school’s primary focus will be on sustainability courses, coordinating research efforts, and presenting technologies capable of influencing both practical applications and policy decisions.
Recently, the Indian Institute of Technology Madras (IIT Madras) inaugurated a School of Sustainability with the objective of offering a range of innovative interdisciplinary courses focused on sustainability. This institution will serve as a platform for hosting events and showcasing technologies aimed at influencing both practical applications and policy decisions. The school was officially launched by Jayant Sinha, a Member of Parliament and the Chairperson of the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Finance.
Conceived as a Center of Excellence, the School of Sustainability will bring together faculty members from various departments and research centers within the Institute. Notably, the IIT Madras School of Sustainability has established Memorandums of Understanding (MoUs) with Tel Aviv University in Israel and Technische Universität Dresden in Germany to foster collaborative efforts in the field of sustainability.
In addition to the forthcoming minor course in sustainability, slated for introduction in 2024 and accessible to all IIT Madras students, the school is also planning to introduce an Integrated Dual Degree Program in Sustainability within the next 3 to 5 years, as outlined in an official release.
The school has identified four primary areas for research and development: decarbonization, human settlements, modeling and scenario development, and behavioral and industrial change. Within these four domains, the School will engage in fundamental scientific research, translational work, product development, pilot initiatives, and policy guidance.
From the Director’s speech
The Director of IIT Madras emphasized the collective responsibility of the global community in meeting the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) 1 to 17. The Institute aims to bring together researchers and industry experts from diverse backgrounds to deliberate, innovate, develop, and implement solutions aligned with the SDGs. Additionally, human capacity development in the context of sustainability will be a primary focus of the School.
Furthermore, he highlighted the measures undertaken by the administration to enhance the campus’s sustainability concerning water and energy. Notably, freshwater consumption on the campus has been reduced from 3.4 million liters per day to 1.4 million liters per day through the implementation of water recycling initiatives.
The Head of the School of Sustainability at IIT Madras pointed out that a significant number of the faculty members within the school are actively engaged with prominent companies. They are Shell, GE, Ashok Leyland, Mahindra Electric, Accenture, Danfoss, Baker Hughes, Saipem, Sembcorp, L&T, CPCL, and the Tata Group.
They have close partnerships with government agencies such as the Union Ministry of Finance and the Chennai Metropolitan Development Authority. These partnerships will be leveraged to organize events like the quarterly Policy Dialogue Series and Technical Workshops, which will address specific major challenges, often aligned with the annual summits hosted by the School.
From the fires in Canada to the flash floods in Sikkim, there are devastating weather events across the globe. 2023 is the warmest year that humanity has ever experienced. Tackling sustainability and decarbonization represents one of the most significant scientific and engineering challenges. Scientists and engineers should focus on finding solutions tailored to India’s unique challenges, emphasizing the need to be problem solvers rather than just scientists and engineers.
The global shift towards sustainability and climate change creates many green jobs in India. On the other hand, there is a lack of educational opportunities in the country to develop the skill sets required for green jobs. In this regard, it’s a notable step for IIT Madras.
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