IIT Madras opens Centre of Excellence for Sustainability aiming to tackle global challenges

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Indian Institute of Technology Madras (IIT Madras) on Saturday launched a School of Sustainability to teach new, interdisciplinary courses on sustainability. It will also provide a platform to host events and showcase technologies that can help drive both practice and policy. Jayant Sinha, Member of Parliament and Chairperson, Parliamentary Standing Committee on Finance, launched the school.

Conceptualised as a Centre of Excellence, the school will bring together faculty members from across departments and research centres of the Institute. The IIT Madras School of Sustainability signed MoUs with Tel Aviv University, Israel ad Technische Universität Dresden, Germany, to collaborate on sustainability.

Apart from the minor course in sustainability set to be launched in 2024 that will be made available to all students at IIT-Madras, the school plans to launch in 3-5 years an Integrated Dual Degree Program on Sustainability, says a release..

The school has identified four key areas: of research and development: in decarbonisation, Human Settlements, Modelling and Scenario Development, and Behavioural and Industrial Change.

In these four areas, the School will undertake basic scientific research, translational and product development, pilot implementations and policy advisory. For example, a policy roundtable on Climate Finance was recently conducted in partnership with the Union Ministry of Finance and served as an important input to the G20 deliberations on this issue, the release said.

V Kamakoti, Director, IIT Madras, said, “Meeting the Sustainable Development Goals – 1 to 17 of the United Nations is a collective responsibility of the entire globe. Through this School, the Institute aspires to bring researchers and industry from different domains to discuss, debate, develop and deploy solutions targeted towards the SDG. Human capacity building related to sustainability will also be a primary focus of this School”

Ashwin Mahalingam, Head, School of Sustainability, IIT Madras, said that many of the faculty involved in the school are already working with companies like Shell, GE, Ashok Leyland, Mahindra Electric, Accenture, Danfoss, Baker Hughes, Saipem, Sembcorp, L&T, CPCL and Tata Group on various levels for a holistic treatment of sustainability.

“We also work closely with government agencies like as the Union Ministry of Finance and Chennai Metropolitan Development Authority. We plan to leverage these partnerships to conduct events such as a Policy Dialogue Series on a quarterly basis and Technical Workshops on specific grand challenges often dovetailed with the annual summits that we will host,” he said.

Kala Vairavamoorthy, an Adjunct Professor at IIT Madras, said that the schools’ mission is trying to link SDG 6 (Ensure availability and sustainable management of water and sanitation for all) with all 17 SDGs is very important.

In his remarks, Sinha said that dealing with sustainability and decarbonisation is the biggest scientific and engineering challenge.

“I want all of us, as scientists and engineers, to really focus on what we need to do to get us to sustainability. We need to find solutions that work for India. You have set up the school for sustainability where we can solve unique Indian problems. Please be a problem solver. Don’t be just scientists and engineers. If we solve India’s problems, we can solve the world’s problems and we can find a way for the crisis of climate change,” he said.

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