Looking globally: the future of education
Looking globally: the future of education

This free course is available to start right now. Review the full course description and key learning outcomes and create an account and enrol if you want a free statement of participation.

Free course

Looking globally: the future of education

4.2 Population growth

Described image
Figure 3 Are we in danger of having too many people for the resources to support?

‘It is not the number of people on the planet that is the issue – but the number of consumers and the scale and nature of their consumption,’ says David Satterthwaite, a senior fellow at the International Institute for Environment and Development in London (Cumming, 2016).

He quotes Gandhi: ‘The world has enough for everyone’s need, but not enough for everyone’s greed.’

Activity 3 Thinking about population growth

Allow approximately 45 minutes

In the previous activity you considered the changing populations of individual countries. You will now consider the bigger picture in terms of global population by reading two articles which review what a sustainable population is for our planet. This will help provide the context for considering the role of education in responding to the issues raised. Together, these two articles concern different ends of the spectrum of the issues raised by population growth.

  1. Skim-read the BBC article How many people can our planet really support? [Tip: hold Ctrl and click a link to open it in a new tab. (Hide tip)] to identify the answer to what a sustainable population might be and some of the factors to take into account.
  2. Now read the article Policies to Address Population Growth Nationally and Internationally (Goodyear, 2008) in which a range of international population-related policies are summarised, not all of which focus on curbing growth. Issues around gender, food production and the role of education are raised. .
  3. Think about:
    • What are the key issues that education needs to concern itself with globally, given the expected demographic change?
    • Which of the solutions offered in the articles do you think education systems in any one country (for example, your own) can reasonably attend to?

Activity 4 Issues of population growth

Allow approximately 60 minutes

In Week 1 you read an extract from The Healer which imagined the outcomes of the two key issues we have discussed here not being tackled: uncontrolled global warming and disasters causing hungry people to move into areas they perceive will offer safety. These are big issues; how big a role can education play in solving them?

  1. Read two or three other posts on the course forum (from Week 4 Activity 2) and consider how migration and demographic change are affecting education systems worldwide.
  2. Now write a comment on the course forum of a maximum of 200 words about the extent to which you think it is the role of education systems to take a lead on solving these issues.
  3. Think about:
    • Do you agree that it is education’s role to mitigate some of the underlying issues and work for peace, reconciliation and/or sustainable living?
    • If it is not a role of an education system to respond to issues related to demographic change, whose role is it?
    • Does the education system you are familiar with include some reference to tackling issues of demographic change, possibly in its curriculum?
  4. Read two or three other posts and respond to at least two. This will require you logging into the forum on at least one other occasion, which might take you into next week, to allow others time to post.

Remember that you need to add at least 3 posts to the forum in order to gain your badge.

Please note: we may wish to reuse your forum contributions, anonymously, in future sessions of this course. If you wish to opt out of this, email FELS-Masters-Admin@open.ac.uk.


Take your learning further

Making the decision to study can be a big step, which is why you'll want a trusted University. The Open University has over 40 years’ experience delivering flexible learning and 170,000 students are studying with us right now. Take a look at all Open University courses.

If you are new to university level study, find out more about the types of qualifications we offer, including our entry level Access courses and Certificates.

Not ready for University study then browse over 900 free courses on OpenLearn and sign up to our newsletter to hear about new free courses as they are released.

Every year, thousands of students decide to study with The Open University. With over 120 qualifications, we’ve got the right course for you.

Request an Open University prospectus