Environmental awareness would not be possible if the students lived surrounded by concrete and iron.
By Anna-Sara Nikolaeva
Today, in the era of “fake news” and manipulated information, it is more important and imperative than ever to teach young people critical thinking, striving for the truth, and how to take a sober look at reality. It is true that thanks to broad access to the Internet, information gathering is increasingly becoming a personal responsibility, but that does not mean the functions of institutions are taken over by the individual. On the contrary, say numerous studies on the subject, the stronger the interpersonal competition, the more important it is to have a prestigious authority on whose criteria the individual can rely.
Universities have long been these stable authorities, who do not just teach knowledge, but also form character and ideals. They are places which concentrate intellectual potential and set the tone of modern trends in policies.
Numerous universities in Europe, Asia and the United States are united in defence of the environment and do not spare resources for the purpose. In addition to their newly introduced programmes for ecology, environmental protection and modern technology, their aula often include big names in science invited to lecture on the subject. And so young minds are inspired to take the initiative. It is no accident that we see the unique phenomenon in the United States of groups of students filing lawsuits against the government for incompetent and malicious action against the environment. With the support of activists and people from all over the world, their mission involves growing numbers of participants in campaigns and companies for nature conservation.
The New Bulgarian University (NBU) stands in the avant-garde of eco-education, where a “green” policy is clearly an educational foundation. NBU is the only Higher Education institution in Bulgaria with an energy efficient building, which is continually upgraded by taking innovative steps such as replacement of lighting fixtures throughout the campus with energy-saving ones, installation of exterior lighting and the construction of thermo-hydro isolation of the buildings.
Along with these changes in the material base, a process of optimising the operation of existing systems (heating, ventilation) is under way. Replacement of boilers and inefficient pumps is being carried out; heat recovery systems are being implemented; thermal insulations of roofs and facades are being built. NBU also has an active paper recycling policy. In fact, the use of paper is minimised because the university works mostly with computers and electronic media. Among the new school initiatives is a project for waste sorting. NBU has a park area with beautifully landscaped lawns, shrubs and trees, which is a good place to relax and recharge your energy. At the initiative of the Biology Laboratory, all plants on NBU territory, more than eighty species, are identified and marked with name plates. Among them are typical plants from the Balkans, and also some representative species of North American fauna, like Giant Sequoia and American Oak. Plant variety is enriched by magnolia, roses, chrysanthemums, aucuba japonica, albizia, forsythia and ninebark. This beautiful environment is also, quite logically, housing an organic cafe with culinary temptations for healthy eating.
Our debt to planet Earth is huge and is steadily increasing. We leave behind this legacy with hope that next generations will have more respect for it.