Aberdeen University to deliver next generation of sustainable development leaders

Aberdeen University to deliver next generation of sustainable development leaders

A new postgraduate degree programme which will provide the next generation of leaders and innovators with the knowledge and skills to take forward and deliver on the UN Sustainable Development Goals has been launched by the University of Aberdeen.

The MSc in Sustainability Transitions will address the current shortage of leaders capable of taking forward the complex changes faced by societies and economies as they attempt to mitigate climate change and address contemporary environmental challenges in line with the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

The one-year degree is the latest in a suite of Masters programmes and scholarships related to sustainability offered by the University.

It will build upon Scotland’s reputation as a leader in the field of sustainability, and Aberdeen’s position as ‘the energy capital of Europe’, combining theoretical knowledge on environmental, economic, and social aspects of sustainable development.

The 17 SDGs were adopted by the UN in 2016, to provide a framework for developing the world in a sustainable way, addressing global challenges including poverty, inequality, climate change, environmental degradation, and peace and justice.

Last year, in launching its Aberdeen 2040 strategy, the University signed up to the Sustainable Development Goals Accord, demonstrating its commitment to achieving this ambition. An indicator of the breadth and depth of the University’s impact is that Aberdeen is ranked in the top 20 in the UK across all 17 SDGs and placed 57th out of 1,115 institutions worldwide in the newly published Times Higher Education Impact Rankings, which recognise universities for their social and economic impact.

While a successful move from carbon-intensive systems to those based on renewable sources of energy is a core element of wider sustainability transitions, also encompassed are all corresponding changes in governance, legal regulations, policy-making, and everyday consumer practices and consumption patterns that must take place for such energy transitions to be successful.

Programme Director Dr Piotr Niewiadomski said the degree will attract new graduates, as well as qualified professionals from a range of backgrounds and occupations who are looking for an opportunity to lead the transition, and who will be vital for progress.

“Sustainability Transition is a very considerable issue and one that needs progressive policies to push it forward. The time for talking about it is over, and we now need to look at what must happen and what needs to change so as to achieve it,” said Dr Niewiadomski.

“Scotland is currently very much at the forefront of this movement, and so the University of Aberdeen is in an excellent position to offer this course. We want our students to learn and understand how they can contribute to the great things happening, ensuring that the skills they learn can be applied globally, across government, industry, and business.

“With its focus on the social and political aspects of energy transition, which are so critical to progressing the sustainable energy agenda, the course is a valuable addition to our current suite of programmes which aim to address all aspects of sustainable development and sustainability transitions.”

Dr David Muirhead, Head of School of Geosciences said: “We are delighted to launch the MSc in Sustainability Transitions to our already varied and applied portfolio of MSc Degree programmes.

“This is a key component to the School of Geosciences activities as we, like everyone else, navigate the energy transition in a just and sustainable manner.”

The MSc will be delivered by a team of academics from multiple disciplines including geosciences, engineering and business, as well as external partners such as NatureScot, the Aberdeen & Grampian Chamber of Commerce, Foundation Scotland, Aberdeen and Aberdeenshire Councils, Zero Waste Scotland, and numerous local environmental partnerships and organisations.

Joel Evans, Team Leader Sustainability and Climate Change (Acting) at Aberdeenshire Council welcomed the new MSc.

“The reason the Sustainability Transitions MSc is so promising is that it offers the chance to combine a breadth of relevant theoretical and practical knowledge and provides a great opportunity to develop and showcase workplace skills and aptitude in a Sustainability Project,” he said.

For more information about the MSc in Sustainability Transitions, which will be available to study on either a full or part-time basis from September 2021, go to the main programme website: https://www.abdn.ac.uk/study/postgraduate-taught/degree-programmes/82/sustainability-transitions/