Luke Gabriel Mendes, faculty at The Xavier’s Institute of Communications (XIC) and Course Director at St. Paul’s Institute of Communication Education (SPICE) discusses his Community for Development Course, with Monarose Sheila Pereira.
What is the importance of teaching students about the environment?
XIC and SPICE have included a course in environment studies in their institutes. We must teach the young to work for the environment! The environment is in a critical situation today. The degradation of the environment means the fine balance of air, food and water created by nature is disrupted resulting in famines, droughts, floods and other natural disasters. Students want to know more on how they can contribute positively to the environment. As part of our social and moral responsibilities, this course includes integrated environmental education into main stream media courses so that the youth will be aware and will pitch for conservation of our environment.
How did it get started?
Fr. Lawrie Ferrao SJ, Director of XIC and Fr. Shaiju Joesph Director of SPICE have taken keen interest in the course and encouraged it a great deal. This programme was made possible with GIZ - German development Cooperation (Ministry of Environment Germany and Ministry of Environment India) under the leadership of Project Head Dr. Mr. Michael Vakily (GIZ) and Human Capacity Development (HCD) Dr. Ms. Neeraj Khera's (GIZ). This project which is run in XIC, SPICE, Gujarat University and Xavier’s BMM course.
Why does this course feature in media institutes?
The media is a powerful tool for awareness and education. It is one of the biggest industries in the world. They are perception builders and mass communicators. This is the best medium to convey issues that are of prime importance. Unless we educate our students who are the future of our world we cannot expect them to work for environmental issues.
What are the topics taught in the course?
The course includes teaching aspects of the environment with an emphasis on the coastal and marine protected area management. The various modules include an introduction to biodiversity and eco system services, setting the context right, knowing why coasts are important, coastal and marine protected areas, coastal climate change, natural disasters and coastal livelihoods.
What is the methodology?
Field trips, simulation exercises and games are organized to convey complex topics. The course is based on the concept - 'Learning through doing' which is simple and most successful. The field trips make the course fun and enjoyable. It is practical and functional instead of classroom mugging. Through this course media students without a background in science are informed about these topics and can add informed value to their reporting or their workplace. The course also includes meditation.
What are the job opportunities after doing the course?
The course offers several job opportunities. Organizations have woken up to the need to work for the environment. Students who do the course can join National Geographic, Discovery Channel and other media houses that focus on the environment. They can also join the CSR division of a corporate house and help the organization stay better informed about their responsibilities to the environment. They can join development organizations or NGOs working on the environment and development projects, or assist scientists. opportunities are huge and the scope is endless.
What are the salaries like in this field?
Luke informs that is not difficult to establish oneself in this field. One needs to specialize in media and environmental studies and then focus on one aspect and become proficient in it. The remuneration for a career in environment depends on the area of focus. The basic salary for an individual in a CSR department can start from Rs.30,000/- to Rs.70,000/- depending on the qualification of the candidate as well as the size of the organization and industry standards. NGO salaries depend on their funding.
What are the plans for the future?
I am trying to integrate schools that XIC and SPICE will mentor into this programme. We must start educating kids from a very young age and make them aware of their responsibility to preserving the environment and mother-nature.