Exclusive interview with Professor Charles A. Hopkins, UNESCO Chairholder in Reorienting Teacher Education towards Sustainability, York University, Canada.
As one of the original educators who pioneered the concept of Education for Sustainable Development (ESD) in late 1980’s, York University’s UNESCO Chairholder Charles Hopkins shared his message to President Hirofumi Makino of Okayama University, encouraging a profound cultural shift of higher education that helped the university embed sustainability deeper into its institutional culture, curricula, research and community service. Professor Hopkins pointed out that “This whole institution’s approach” to refocus, reaffirm and revitalize the university in synergy with the City of Okayama and other civic partners towards SDGs were creating a unique global brand as a sustainable, livable and learning city focused on the well-being of all, which is seldom found anywhere in the world. Professor Hopkins also mentioned that President Makino’s unswerving vision and leadership could enable the university to demonstrate how higher education could contribute globally, nationally and locally in building a more sustainable future, making Okayama a shining exemplar of using “Education, Public Awareness and Training” which is the title of Chapter 36 of Agenda 21 at the UN Rio de Janeiro Earth Summit in 1992 where Professor Hopkins served on the drafting team. As such, the recognition of Okayama University for its leadership and partnership in sustainability by the Government of Japan, the special prize of “The First Japan SDGs Award” was practically unprecedented and inspirational. “A truly global champion that shares its knowledge worldwide.”