The "greening" of the higher education curriculum is being resisted because it is seen as a form of political correctness although activists in other areas influence the curriculum unchallenged because they have money behind them, a meeting of the Council for Environmental Education heard this week.
The claims were made at the launch of a series of 11 books produced by a CEE project to help academics green their curricula. Each book covers a different subject, from the built environment to humanities and social sciences.
Funded by the Department of the Environment and the World Wildlife Fund UK, the books describe four levels at which "greening" can be implemented, from bolting on a course that does not interfere with the rest of the curriculum to orientating an entire discipline towards the goal of achieving a sustainable future.
Shirley Ali Khan, of the University of Hertfordshire, who oversaw the books' production, said that bolting on "allows disciplines to be untouched and prevents any hint of an environmental action agenda infiltrating studies. The very idea of this generates a lot of tension within academia."
She said: "Those academics who rail against this are often blissfully unaware that they are actively involved in implementing other action agendas, for example increasing participation in Europe through language skills, or increasing competitiveness through development of enterprise skills."
Books can be ordered from the CEE. Telephone 0734 756061.