by Olivier Mazimpaka, MSLS '12
This past year was an incredible experience studying at the MSLS programme at BTH. My two colleagues and I focused our thesis on “The Contribution of Religious belief in Moving Society Towards Sustainability”, because we believe that “Religious communities have achieved remarkable behaviour change in situations where non-faith-based communication failed” (Palmer and Finlay 2003). We ended up finding that religious concepts such as stewardship and the Golden Rule are key motivations, which can give guidance on sustainability. However, these concepts are not consciously exploited.
Furthermore, our research found that both religious leaders and people lack a full understanding of sustainability and are not strategic about moving towards sustainability, and that religious communities could greatly benefit from adopting a strategic sustainable development (SSD) approach. It was a very good experience since it was the first time in our university to link religion to sustainability. We found that connecting religion and sustainability was powerful in engaging people and our colleagues. Our most interesting findings came when we started interviewing church leaders and religious experts.
Now I am back in my home country, and at my university, the National University of Rwanda. I have already talked to my rector and he encouraged me to continue on with my work in the sustainability field, and suggest a proper plan on e-waste management, and recycling. I am working on this already. I am also trying my best to get the university working with the MSLS program of BTH, in order to share knowledge and learn from their sustainability experience.
I believe our students and researchers could benefit from MSLS experience and improve the sustainability program in Rwanda on the academic side as well, especially by training many institutions and universities to use FSSD. I would also like to pursue my sustainability studies to PhD level so that I can better provide my contribution to the National University of Rwanda and to my country and region in general.