By: Aiza Nadeem and Salman Tuasene Khawaja
In the first week of April, The Post conducted a questionnaire amongst the LUMS community to determine how aware the average LUMS student is in regards to the environmental policies of Pakistan. The questionnaire also measured the current importance felt about a possible environmental course. Questions were asked which pertained to the respondents interests and experiences with environmental courses, the environmental policies of Pakistan and organisations implementing such policies, and finally their views on a compulsory course and whether it would be necessary for the students in the near future.
Disclaimer: The survey is not representative of the entire LUMS community.
The survey was divided into two sections based on whether or not the respondent had taken an environmental course or a course with an environmental component. Among, the 60% of respondents who answered ‘no’ to the preceding question, the results were quite one sided. 80% of such respondents were unaware of any environmental policies of their country while 60% were unaware of any initiatives being taken by organizations to combat climate change. When asked if they could name any policy, a respondent said, “I didn’t know they existed.” On the contrary, there were also some who were aware and were noted to have responded with, “The National Environment Quality Standards. Clean and Green Pakistan” – to name just a few policies. Concerning organisations, a respondent replied, “Aren’t they just lies?” which may hint to the non-seriousness towards climate change still present.
While 40% of these respondents believed they were environmentally conscious, 30% of them were indecisive about a 1-2 credit hour introductory course on the environment. The course that was postulated was compulsory for its students and could be taken anytime during a student’s four/five years at LUMS. It was interesting to note that 60% were in favour of such a course and a mere 10% were adverse to such a course.
When asked to cite how the climate affected these individuals, the respondents replied with issues pertaining to the extreme heat conditions, the rise in flooding, air pollution and its related diseases, untimely droughts affecting crop production, and other similar climate-related issues. This provided The Post with a variety of reasons to build a course that could teach the LUMS community more about these issues and prepare them for the role of safe-keeping the environment.
Among the 40% who had taken environmental courses, the results were also quite one-sided. When asked if their environmental course adequately equipped them with necessary knowledge, 93.3% favourly responded. Moreover, an astonishing 93.4% believed an introductory course on environment or or environmental components in many courses should be compulsory. Furthermore, another 93.4% felt more responsible towards the environment after these courses. Through the overwhelmingly one-sided view, it was made clear to The Post that students who had opted for an environmental course could only sing its praises.
The Post was delighted to hear the following responses in defence of having a compulsory environmental course or components which focused on environment:
“It’s just as important to know about than other compulsory courses at LUMS if not more.”
“We must educate our students in environmental issues and prepare them for the future. Sink or swim, darling. The choice needs to be made now.”
“Even though I care about the environment, I do admit that I lack the discipline to study it or research about it properly enough. So a mandatory course could force students such as myself to learn about it formally.”
On the contrary, some students posited interesting arguments, such as “Compulsory courses set a bad precedent and everyone is aware of the climate problem; a course is not gonna do much to change anything.”
The Post reached out to the Deans of various schools to ask their opinion about including such a course as a core for a student. Dr Alnoor Bhimani, Honorary Dean Suleman Dawood School (SDSB) of Business, favourably responded that, “Certainly global related issues should be of key concern to all of us. SDG 13 is a principal issue that has international support and awareness.” He explained how currently the Centre for Business and Society, which was born from various centres at SDSB, places significant focus on climate change. He also elaborated, “We are also hoping to have requisite LUMS based core courses for all UG students which will cover this important area.”
Students were considerably in favour of opting for such courses. Raahim Nadeem ‘24 pointed out how such courses would “only serve to make us better humans so there is no reason to not opt for them.” When asked when he would be most comfortable about taking such a course, Nadeem ‘24 said, “It would be better to keep it as a core that I have to take within my 4 years at LUMS rather than the admin force enrolling me into it.”
On the other hand, some students were against having a ‘compulsory’ course. *Ali Bajwa said, “I don’t see the fascination with having such a course. So many world organisations are trying to spread the issue yet the public remains unaware due to their pathetic attitudes.” Bajwa held strong views and was correct to point out that, “Even if you force enroll students in such a course, in an online semester they would cheat their way through it.” While the arguments were not completely sound, The Post does agree with Bajwa’s sentiments that a well planned course which focuses on building knowledge and awareness would be much more important than one which focuses on memorising jargons the student body would not understand and never use.
Through the survey and various opinions, The Post has concluded that the need for an environmental course or components for environments is ever present. With time it will become more clear what approach the LUMS Administration adopts concerning this thought but the student body can be confident in hopefully seeing more environmental courses and/or environmental components in course in the future.