Building competencies amongst youth to mainstream knowledge and soft skills to enable a transformative impact on the society
The world is recognizing the relevance and scope of Sustainability Science (SS) as it integrates the disciplines ranging from pure sciences and social sciences and their specializations. Hence, a balance between policies, research, and direct action is integral to the field of SS. Interdisciplinarity is important for SS, and this is a relatively new area. Hence, experiments done within the scope of SS need to be recorded and intensive dissemination of lessons learnt (Haider, 2018). The youth of today should be aware of these new upcoming disciplines and be able to align their strengths to address environmental challenges with interdisciplinary skills. The future belongs to the youth, and they will also be impacted the most. Representative of vibrance and positive energies, young people are our future citizenry. The need of the hour is to enhance their knowledge of sustainability and improve their skill sets. This is achievable only when the capacity-building initiatives are planned with the right mix of pedagogy, limiting not only to subject matter knowledge but beyond, hence touching the sphere of SS. At TERI (The Energy and Resources Institute), different permutations and combinations are tried to make learning creative and, at the same time, have the potential to apply learning in a larger setting. This paper presents the findings of a project run by TERI in partnership with NCSTC (National Council for Science and Technology Communication), Department of Science and Technology, Government of India. TERI implemented TERI-NCSTC Eco Next Investigation for Youth, which comprised six trainings of five days each on local environmental issues. Along with core environmental learning, these workshops were also enriched with science communication and leadership training. Post this training; a few selected students worked on action projects that promised a transformative impact in their immediate neighborhoods. Through the program, TERI directly reached out to 175 students and also influenced 20 students to implement pathbreaking changes in their surroundings. The program helped students enhance their knowledge about issues related to nature conservation, eco-restoration, and nature-based solutions through tools that stressed cocreation, leadership skills, innovative approaches, and experimentation. The paper also stresses upon future research area on citizen science concept and ways in which a connect could be established with environmental education.