Sustainability Studies: A Must or just a Trend? | Bangkok Post: learning

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Sustainability Studies: A Must or just a Trend?

New issues see need for change in study focus

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About 40,000 Thai students travel overseas for further education each year. The majority, who are privately funded students, focus their choice of study on subjects related to business such as marketing, international business, finance, logistics, human resource etc. The lesser number of publicly funded students return home with degrees in science, education and subjects related to public services such as public health. 

This has led to a severe imbalance in the job market between the private and public sectors, as well as a huge labour shortage in the agricultural sector. This has become a major issue in Thailand.

Since 2007, economics and the environment have became the focus of many international and local dialogues. As a result, the world is adjusting all its activities to accommodate a balance between human needs and sustainability.

Unfortunately Thailand, as a developing country, has a young generation which is still heavily influenced by hard-core economic and business growth. Education, especially for the privately funded, still very much focuses on money-making careers and enterprises. Thai parents, as the main financial sponsor, are aware of global issues like climate change, yet cannot relate their children's future career to one where sustainability is a main force. As a result, the decision on what to study and what to pursue as a career still very much leans towards traditional choices.

What is known is that world leaders and many global enterprises have shifted their attention and resources to make this planet more sustainable. They all agree that, whether we like it or not, ensuring a sustainable planet is the only choice left for human civilization. Vision 2050: a New Agenda for Business, is the outcome of the latest effort by a group of world business leaders towards this sustainable path. This project was a result of 18 months of collaboration between world business leaders who came together to envisage a picture of the world in the next 40 years. The challenge that lies ahead would be "a planet of around 9-billon people, all living well - with enough food, clean water, a roof over their heads, good transport, education and health - within the limits of what this small, fragile planet can supply and renew everyday". To make this vision see the light of day they all agree, we need to aquire a new mindset, new skills, new behaviour and a new way of doing things altogether.

In the context of Thailand, it is important for parents and the younger generation to also take note and share this vision so that they can prepare themselves for the emerging job market centering round the notion of "sustainability" in the next decade. However, it is vital to understand that sustainability is something greater than the "agriculture" we tend to associate it with. We need a "holistic" view to understand it as it underlies all facets of life: basic living, economics, politics, education, the environment and ecosystems. In terms of study choice, the doors are opening wider for business, agriculture, economics, education, health, art/design, science, engineering etc.

Let us be part of this moving force and save this planet for the coming generation.

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