Photograph: Students from all the participating countries attending the Science Jam session in Trondheim, Norway.
Climate Change is real and around us. However, as studies show, many people think it will not affect them directly and it will happen mostly in ‘other’ countries. It is thus very important that teachers not only know about the concept of Climate Change, but are also aware of the transformative pedagogies that can be used in formal and informal education, in class or on site.
For this purpose, a group of four students studying Masters in Education for Sustainable Development from the CEER (Centre for Environmental Education and Research, UM) participated in an EduChange programme with three other universities namely the Utrecht University form Netherlands, the Norwegian NTNU University, and Palacký University Olomouc of the Czech Republic. University students from different nationalities together with their tutors joined forces into understanding the implications of teaching about Climate Change by adopting a place-based education approach and blended learning. The programme involved a two-week exchange, with the first, a Field Experience, being held in Malta (24 February to 2 March 2019) and the second, a Science Jam Session, (13 to 17 May) was held in Trondheim, Norway.
The Field Experience provided experiences that although Climate Change is a global problem every country is being affected differently. Tutors shared their studies on how teenagers perceive Climate Change. Most youths (irrespective of their country) admit that they think that Climate Change is a huge problem that will affect everyone, however, they fail to understand that it will affect them personally in their local neighbourhood and think that technology will solve every issue. During the field sessions to the Chadwick Lakes and Il-Ballut ta’ Marsaxlokk (Natura 2000 site), students from other countries were familiarised with the issue of water shortage in the Maltese Islands and its impact on our ecosystems.
All participating students took part in a symposium organised to investigate and share aspects of global warming in their respective national and local contexts. Workshops addressed innovative practical and interactive methods used to teach about Climate Change and make it relevant to youth. These workshops focused on photography sessions, sessions with Virtual Reality equipment, ArcGIS surveys and Story Maps and the organisation of field sessions. These sessions provided tangible examples of how technology could be used in the field to enhance its educational value.
Involvement in EduChange meant that students had to create an innovative lesson about Climate Change, based on the new skills and knowledge acquired during the Field Experiences and deliver it in schools. These lessons were then presented at the Science Jam Session in Trondheim. This was a great opportunity for students to use their creativity to develop educational experiences that included games, investigations, surveys and fieldworks and discuss the main outcomes, successes and limitations. Intensive feedback was given about pedagogical and technical issues by the tutors.
What prevailed the most was the need to link facts about Climate Change to everyday experiences and build on the learners’ previous knowledge. Tutors organised place-based fieldworks to show how this type of teaching has a deeper impact on one’s life. These fieldworks varied from an analysis on the climate change’s impact on the shoreline’s ecosystem in Tautra which is a RAMSAR area, to a trip to Bymarka mountain to study the effects of a sea level rise on the fjords, and the use of ArcGIS equipment and 3D models of the city to identify the impact of climate change in Trondheim. Moreover, Virtual Reality equipment was used to show how such technology can be implemented in lessons to explore the effects of climate change in distant areas.
EduChange has been a great opportunity for highlighting the important role that educators have in helping students to learn about climate change and equip them with the skills that empower them to take action in fighting climate change. The EduChange project is funded by Erasmus+ Programme of the European Union – project number 2017-1-CZ01-KA203-035519.
Article written by Nadia Borg and Fiona Vella Ciangura