Why YOU should choose Global Sustainable Development (GSD)
Having just completed the 2nd term in my 2nd year as a GSD student, I am now officially over the half-way point, and I can’t be any happier with the way things have gone, for the good or the bad. The difficulties and joys in success were exactly what I came to university for, and I can now safely say despite my initial doubts of GSD due to the relative unique and unorthodox nature of the subject, it ended up being the best decision to take the leap of faith and devote my 3 years of university towards fulfilling my lifelong ambition of making the world a better place. GSD has provided me with all the foundational knowledge and understanding to the underlying problems of society, and crucially, broadened my vision of viewing sustainability as a purely environmental issue.
When people ask me what subject I take, my reply is often greeted with a puzzling look, or the simple assumption “Yeah cool, is it just a fancy name for climate change?”
Without trying to overburden the person in question with a long dialogue of what sustainability is and why it matters, my answer would always be something along the lines of “Yes climate change and environmental problems are part of it, but GSD is about understanding the root causes and impacts beyond environmental degradation, and coming up with long-term strategies to overcome all these complex problems which extend to politics, society and the economy.”
My explanation of GSD is constantly changing because I feel like no matter how I explain it, the ‘simple’ explanation will always be unable to capture the full brilliance of GSD, from the skills it teaches, the influence it has on your everyday life, and crucially, the desire it instills to do something about the issues, once you become aware of how severe and important it is to act before the ticking time bomb results in irreversible damage.
So without trying to undersell GSD, I am asking you to give me the next 2 minutes to convince you to take the leap of faith and choose GSD, just as I did a year and a half ago.
Climate change is already affecting millions, and though we may not realise it, the damages are already felt in the form of droughts, famines spread across Third World Countries which we seem to overlook as long as it doesn’t have an immediate impact on us. These people have lost their livelihoods despite already lacking basic infrastructure, education and many things ‘we’ take for granted in the comfort of our well developed environments.
Now imagine in 2050, you have just been displaced involuntarily because rising sea levels has risen to uninhabitable levels. You might be able to cope in the short-term with your savings, but millions of others in the same situation have been displaced, lost livelihoods, and what used to be comfortable lives for many have now transformed into desperate exasperation in finding a new settlement, jobs, and secure livelihoods.
Climate change has resulted in frequent extreme weather events, droughts, and floods in areas across the world, affecting food prices which adds insurmountable pressure on your depleting finances. Now, you’re worrying about securing food and a home, let alone education for your children. These issues that you used to overlook happening in Third World Countries all those years ago, are now affecting you. The cruel realisation climate change does not discriminate is now a well known fact.
The good thing is, WE can still be the difference. Years of colonial injustice leading to the limited capacities of Third World countries today will not be undone, but we can always start here to correct these problems. It matters, because you will never wish upon someone to be going through the life threatening struggles they’re going through now, and the similar struggles will be seen later on in your life when climate change affects your area, or when refugees forced to evacuate ‘intrude’ your area.
If you’re passionate about making a change, before the fact that current policies are severely insufficient becomes a well known problem too late to address, then it’s time to stop worrying about the future and do something about it now.
The beauty is that there is no fixed pathway for how you decide to build your toolkit, as every different module you take in the most inter-disciplinary course in the university will allow you to explore your interests, and discover how you can truly be the difference, regardless of how big or small your impact may be.
I have already taken my first steps in my first physical term here at uni, by coordinating a donation event in my accommodation for the victims of Ukraine, via the help of Coventry Foodbank. GSD has undoubtedly inspired me to act on my beliefs, as I know even a small act of kindness may have transformative effects for the less fortunate.
My desire to make these changes has only grown ever since deciding to choose GSD as the naïve 18 year old, thinking he already understood the problems of society with the surface issues of poverty. There is so much more to sustainability and how you could actually approach the issues, and this challenging problem has no ‘correct’ solution, but a carefully considered action is always the best decision.
So if you’re still on the fence for choosing GSD, I urge you to jump off the fence *Careful you don’t fracture your ankle :(* and trust that GSD will equip you with the knowledge you would have gained from an Economics, Politics, or Geography degree and applying in a way which benefits the world, and that the future YOU would thank yourself for being part of the change which saved the world. I may not have been the fictional superhero I wanted to be as a kid, but at least I have still fulfilled part of my dream to help save lives, and who doesn’t like becoming as close to their childhood hero as possible?