Graduation will train future disruptors

Alison stunt

Student Alison Stunt says the college’s approach is about experiencing nature, not just reading about it

The climate disruptors of the future will be trained by a new degree program, a company involved in the program said.

Black Mountains College, Talgarth, Powys has launched a degree in sustainable futures.

It has collaborated with Cardiff Metropolitan University, the Brecon Beacons National Park and industry partners.

The college says the course is the first in the world devoted entirely to climate action and was a response to “the climate and ecological emergency”.

The course will be partly classroom-based but will include industry placements and outdoor teaching on the college’s farm campus.

It also incorporates the natural landscape, the senses and the arts – students are encouraged to immerse themselves in nature – feeling, hearing and even savoring the world around them. The idea is to reinforce the knowledge they learn and create a deep connection with the world around them.

CEO Ben Rawlance said the college was founded on the ethos that climate change is not just a scientific problem, but “a problem of human behavior, of values, of systems, of politics and economics.”

Jodie Bond of the Brecon Beacons National Park Authority said: ‘Natural and climate emergencies are extremely important.

“We can’t face these big challenges we have as a society alone, we have to work together.”

Jodie Bond

Jodie Bond welcomes ‘natural’ partnership between Brecon Beacons National Park and new Bachelor

Mr Rawlance said the world of work is already changing, with companies employing sustainability and climate managers, and this course aims to ‘give students the tools to imagine a different future’.

“These young people will be very popular with the industry because they will have that holistic view of the world,” he added.

“They will understand how change occurs and will be educated in theories of organizational change.”

These skills include critical thinking, creativity, communication, collaboration and compassion.

One of the industry partners is the consulting firm Accenture, which employs 750,000 people worldwide.

Chief Responsibility Officer Peter Lacy said there was an “insatiable” demand for skills in the areas of sustainability and systems change.

“[Demand] it will increase exponentially for the kind of disruptors that can bring new thinking, new solutions to problems.”

A view of the Black Mountains

Students will spend part of their course learning in nature

Alison Stunt studies horticulture in college and said the approach wasn’t purely intellectual: “It’s not academic like that, it’s not learning from books.

“It’s learning from being out there in nature and experiencing things with our whole body, rather than reading it and knowing it in an intellectual way.”

Mr Rawlance admitted it was really hard for people “who were educated in these very strict degree programs to turn their heads”, but it was “obvious to the young people who are coming up now”.

“So, this is not only urgent and necessary but responds to the market. This is what the guys want.”

Black Mountains College has received more than £500,000 in lottery funding and is in the process of securing £1.5m in social investment to fund the launch of the course.

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