23 Jan 2014

IIFM: An Institute of Contemporary Relevance with Environmental Dimensions in Higher Education

Education is expected to equip the citizens to make them up to date and build confidence in them to progressively tackle the societal issues. Science education in general has the mandate to transmit the basic understanding of the scientific temper and application value of science in daily lives of the people. Higher education in science needs to build exploratory potentials.
The education streams that have a multidisciplinary and “synthesis” roles such as those dealing with natural resources management, environment management, climate change, Farm Management, Marketing management and so on need to encompass various externalities and also build capacities of analyses and redressal.

Historical Perspectives
In the last five decades the expectations from different streams of education have undergone a transformation of very high order, laying unanticipated demands over the education pattern and curriculum. While the institutions involved in such education have been trying to accommodate and become more and more contemporary and remain relevant, the same has  not been at a matching pace vis a vis the expectations. 
Almost all streams in management related to industries, corporate, resource management have raised their demands for students with capacities related to environmental issues, sustainability, carbon sequestration and climate change effects etc. Such expectations have their trigger in the technological advancements and the revolutions in the computer and communication fields. 
While these advancements have made many things easier and competitive, they have also made the society more demanding and exacting.

Recent Calamities and Catastrophe
Human handling of nature and natural resources has through several events cautioned that it is more exploitative and unsustainable. Historically this outcome has been projected though various disasters, calamities, loss of biodiversity, water crises, droughts, floods and so on. Recent events in Uttarakhand and Orissa substantiate this fact and they have all the alerting factors in them.
Such repercussions and events have reminded the human kind to learn to be within the nature’s potentials than tap them for greed, beyond their carrying capacities. In this respect, it is mandatory for the higher education in the country to adopt and assimilate such changes in the curriculum to generate the youth with such knowledge and capacities.
Indian Institute of Forest Management, functioning under the Ministry of Environment and Forests, in consonance with the contemporary requirement, has courses with curricula embracing such diversity of  subjects such as Natural Resource Management, Climate change and its effects on the livelihoods, Ecosystem Services, Economic valuation of natural resources such as forests, water and so on. 
The courses such as Post Graduate Diploma in Forest Management (PGDFM), Fellow in Program Management (FPM) and the M Phil in Natural Resource Management (MRM) have a blend of subjects which build good analytical and grassroots level assessment potential among the students. All these courses have good field work components to immerse the students in real time situations at the village level and help them be more practical in their thoughts and actions. 
Many institutions may be  producing good number of post graduates in specific management subjects annually the IIFM has the distinction of producing young post graduates with environmental assessment, resource accounting and ecological services valuation, Social Impact Assessment calibers.
Keeping in these developments and the recent Corporate Social Responsibility related amendment in the Companies Act the need for young graduates with such varied and relevant potential is going to increase multi-folds. A situation might arise where in there is huge demand for such young professionals in the society. IIFM is alert to this fact and is contemplating to further enhance the potentials of its products by enriching the pedagogy and field interaction.

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