I learnt a lot in India, and not always from the places I expected. At large universities we can tend to find ourselves in a bubble, often by degree discipline. In India we were fortunate enough to meet and learn from leaders in the fields of fashion and sustainability; but often the most enlightening conversations came on the packed and sweaty bus.
The by-application nature of the trek meant that the students represented fields as diverse as politics, medicine, fashion, business and history. Many observations that led to profound questions would fly by the radar of some students but were keenly observed and interrogated by others. Fashion students tended to have an acute eye for detail, asking ‘what is this before us? How is it made?’ leading into larger questions of ‘What is its significance to the owner, community, culture?’. Business students tended to be forward-thinking ‘How can we take what we are seeing here and disseminate it, improve it, fulfil its potential?’. Humanities students could then interrogate, the ‘why’ questions. Why are we in this situation, what historical processes, as large as industrialisation, have led us here?
These questions began in sustainable fashion and led into larger questions of sustainability; producing fascinating conversations and potential solutions. We are, after all, only students of our disciplines. So imagine what could happen if the leaders of these fields collaborated; politicians, historians, geologists, biological scientists, diplomats, religious leaders, worked together to come up with genuine solutions to Climate Change.
There is no one-size-fits-all sustainability solution. We desperately need an overhaul of major systems that govern our lives. We need to start thinking about moving towards a circular economy; using biofuel and electricity; food wastage and production; animal conservation, plastic pollution, media coverage to name a few. We are so deep into this climate catastrophe produced by a collaborative effort, only a collaborative world-wide effort will get us out now. For that we need esoteric expert leaders to work together.
We need innovators and those willing to use their knowledge and creativity to devise long-term solutions and to convince our nay-saying politicians that rescuing our beloved planet is possible. We can’t give up, deeming it ‘too expensive’ and ‘impossible’. It is not yet two-hundred years since men stood in parliament claiming that it would be ‘too expensive’ and ‘impossible’ to abolish the slave-trade. As Nelson Mandela claimed, everything seems impossible until it is done. In two-hundred years from now I want the earth to still be habitable for humanity and for what is left of our glorious animal cohabiters. For that to happen we need a bus full of interdisciplinary university students writ large.