This month we talk to environmental science tutor Vasiliki about how she approaches this critical subject, and what parents can do at home to encourage an environmental conscience in their children.
What brought you into tutoring, and why did you decide to focus on environmental science?
My interest in tutoring began while working as a science tutor in my home country of Greece. I wanted to share my passion for science with my students and make a difference in their lives – empowering them to continue their studies to higher education, and take the next step in their academic careers.
I am currently doing my PhD in Environmental Policy at Imperial College London, and so I now focus my tutoring on environmental science and sustainability in particular.
Why do you think environmental science is important for today’s students?
Environmental science is important because it provides students with vital knowledge and understanding of the challenging environmental issues that we’re increasingly encountering. It also cultivates a holistic way of thinking that takes into account the connections between different systems (environmental, social, political and economic) and stakeholders (local communities, governments, private sector, academia) in society.
What’s the secret to engaging your students in the subject?
For me, the trick is not to treat environmental science as a series of facts that needs to be learnt and recited. Instead, I help my students to develop a deep understanding of concepts by studying examples and real-life case studies. We use digital tools, such as interactive maps and graphs, to collect data, understand problems and propose solutions so that students can truly experience the subject.
Do you have any suggestions for parents wanting to promote a better awareness of the environment at home?
By having regular discussions with their children about the environmental and social issues they encounter in the news or on social media, parents can help to increase the visibility of the environment in the wider context of society. From a young age, you can start cultivating values of care, respect and responsibility for the environment by engaging your children in outdoor activities in the garden, nearby park or an area of ecological interest. It’s even more important to encourage them to actively participate in social decision-making by joining efforts at school, in the local area or even at a national level.
Finally – do you have any words of wisdom for students considering a career in environmental science?
As with everything in life, knowing what makes you feel passionate is a good starting point. If you really care about making a difference in the lives of people, as well as addressing challenging environmental and social issues through creative teamwork, then do consider a career in this sector. Developing important thinking skills, such the ability to see connections in the real world, social skills of collaboration and communication, and values of respect, solidarity and responsibility are the key to success.