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Skip to 0 minutes and 16 secondsSo far we have explored how different people have different ways of finding happiness and meaning in their lives, particularly their work lives. We considered how different people enjoy different roles based partly on the way they find purpose and enjoyment in the work they do. We focus on a number of case studies of people who have engaged with sustainable development challenges locally to us in the Bristol area. They've taken different roles in this and work together with others to make things happen. They've made contributions to understanding, to policy, to business practice, to community groups and to the lives of people in need.

Skip to 0 minutes and 53 secondsThis week we broaden our attention beyond our local community to global sustainability challenges. Again, we are not aiming to teach you all about them. Rather, we are interested in the different ways people engage with these challenges. We will once again consider the different approaches people adopt, how those fit into a larger picture and how those people find purpose and enjoyment in doing so. We will look at three global challenges and how people in Bristol are engaging with them in different ways.

Skip to 1 minute and 27 secondsWe will look at the challenge of climate change. Many people are familiar with the warming effect of carbon dioxide but there are other gases which also need to be controlled. We will consider one which is over seven thousand times more warming than CO2 and we'll see how academics at the University of Bristol work with technologists and businesses to help understand and control its emissions. We will look at marine protection, and ground breaking work that has taken place in Albania to support the change of livelihood of local people. Both to protect the environment and improve their current situation.

Skip to 2 minutes and 2 secondsThis is particularly close to my own heart as I'm a member of the NGO 'Deep Blue Explorers' that conduct environmental surveys in several areas in Albania. But firstly, we will consider the challenge of plastic waste and litter. How what might seem to be simply a local problem, making the harbour in Bristol unsightly, is part of a far bigger problem of plastic pollution which is degrading the marine environment and in particular breaking down into minute microplactics and entering the food chain in surprising ways.

Skip to 2 minutes and 31 seconds We will see how students, staff and alumni of the University of Bristol are working to understand the problem better, clean things up before the plastics reach the sea and transform industry supply chains to reduce or remove the chance of plastic escaping to the environment

Welcome to Week 3

Last week, we considered ways in which a community can engage locally with challenges such as homelessness, food waste and energy.

We saw some of the different roles people play, and the ways in which they interact and work together to make a difference. This week, we take a global perspective.

What to expect this week

During this week, we’ll be introducing you to lots of different case studies. We are focusing on three sustainability challenges and looking at how people in the Bristol region are approaching them. You should familiarise yourself with the main topics and case studies in all of these themes.

However, just like last week, you also have the chance to tailor your learning this week. Before you start, take a look at the themes, and choose one or two which you would like to focus on. Then, spend more time working with those case studies, and thinking about them in more detail (remember that in total, each week should take you around three hours, so you need to plan your time depending on how many themes you are focusing on). The quiz at the start of this week might help you decide where you want to focus. At the end of the week there will be a chance for you to discuss what you found out about the case studies you focused on, and learn about the other case studies in more detail from other learners.

This week’s themes

This week, we’ll consider some key environmental challenges in more detail, including climate change and plastic waste. We also use a bigger case study, from Albania, to see a more joined up picture of how big environmental challenges can be tackled in local and global ways. Again, we’ll think about the different roles people can play, but this week we also introduce the idea of change mechanisms, and how people make change happen.

  • We’ll specifically consider the challenge of microplastic waste, an area in which our understanding is only beginning to develop, meaning that the global response to it is new.

  • We’ll look at the role of scientists in helping understand the nature of the challenge.

  • We’ll look at the role of public art in raising awareness and public understanding of the issue.

  • Lastly, we’ll look at the role of NGOs in supporting both policy development and innovation in industry to tackle the challenge.

Most people are aware of the basic facts of climate change, as established as consensus by the climate science community, as well as the role of carbon dioxide emissions from energy generation and transportation in contributing to this.

For that reason, this week will focus on a lesser known aspect of the challenge: the role of fluorocarbon gases which are used by, or produced as a waste product by, certain specific industry sectors. Far less of these gases is emitted to the atmosphere than carbon dioxide, but the gases are far more powerful in their contribution to global warming, and last far longer in the atmosphere. For this reason, it is essential we contain and control them effectively. We look at the role of science in understanding the challenge and industry in developing solutions.

Finally we will consider a case study on a national scale which integrates social, economic, cultural and environmental sustainability work, by looking at the development strategies used on the Albanian coast as it emerged from the effects of the economic collapse and civil war in the late 1990s.

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This video is from the free online course:

Unleash Your Potential: Sustainable Futures

University of Bristol

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