30 SES 07 B, Student Learning Activities in ESE/ESD
Within the objectives of the Societal Challenge 6 settled on Horizon 2020 Work Programme, it is of main relevance to support conditions fostering ‘reflective European societies in a context of unprecedented transformations and growing global interdependencies’ (European Commission,2017). The so fast socioeconomic and cultural changes in this fourth industrial revolution are prone to unbalance individual’s lives, communities management and planet resources guarantees. In particular, water is one of the most disputed natural resources worldwide, with future provisions facing serious threats due to climate change and modern standards of living throughout the last decades. Water is one of the most discussed environmental problems in Europe and subject of the established Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) at the 2030 United Nations Agenda for Sustainable Development (United Nations,2015). Individual habits, industrial practices and adopted policies, from micro to macro systems, need urgently to be revised and discussed both among specialized and lay publics. In this sense, UNESCO defines the Roadmap for implementing the Global Action Programme (GAP) on Education for Sustainable Development(ESD), with Priority Action Area 4 headed to ‘Empowering and mobilizing youth’ (UNESCO,2014). According to that document, the dimensions of ESD are discriminated into learning content, pedagogy and learning environments, learning outcomes and societal transformation, pointing out that the ultimate achievement is to transform society. It is worth to note that the emphasis is then placed in a passive/receptive assumption, ensuring that conditions are created to provide information and skills for future citizens, empowered to make ‘green decisions’, take ‘green jobs’ and develop ‘green solutions’. In fact, this strategy of empowerment seems merely positioning citizens charged with individual environmental responsibility, instead of encouraging social agency, promoting sociopolitical engagement, and empowering citizens with voice to take part of discussions with decision-makers and propose or vote for environmental policies. Social transformation through learning is actually defended by Rogoff as a collaborative process in which ‘proximal and distal relations of individuals with other individuals, the roles of individuals in groups, and the structural arrangements of people’s roles in institutions (...) extend beyond the lifespan and lifespace of individuals’ (Rogoff,1998). Envisioning ESD in the sociopolitical realm, demanding individual and collective agency to address a wider perspective of societal transformations, requires changes not only in terms of individuals’ values and beliefs but also in terms of the values and beliefs that regulate political decisions and societies underlying forces, such as the Dominant Social Paradigm (Kilbourne,2002). Empowering young citizens through ESD can be instead to promote space and time to reflect on relevant issues, to think and express themselves critically about local and global problems and to define their personal expectations accordingly, being conscious that they have a say about their lives into local and international politics’ arena. In fact, Paulo Freire’s emancipatory education asserts its basis in what he called conscientization, stimulating personal and social transformation (Freire,1987). Despite all efforts devoted to ESD, there is a lack of literature reporting educational interventions’ impact. Recently, the first review over several studies including development education(DE), ESD and global citizenship education(GCED) was published (O’Flaherty,2017). Measures of impact included changes in knowledge, skills, attitudes, ethics and in emerging actions. It was noted a strong reliance on positivist approaches and global failure in activism as a process outcome. The present work attempts to contribute to the field with a school-and-community based intervention study in which participatory research with young students includes: their role as actors in the investigation process, as active voices in the discussion of environmental hot topics related to water issues and finally, through a community profiling strategy, as disseminators accounting their own scientific achievements to the local politicians and open community.
The work presented here is part of a broader project encompassing a mixed methods research design, which involves implementation and self-monitorization of a school-based intervention throughout 3 years to promote environmental literacy, awareness and social agency on young students, in particular regarding water issues. The school hosting the project is part of the ECO-Schools’ international network, coordinated in Portugal by ‘Associação Bandeira Azul da Europa’ (ABAE, 2013). The project was implemented encompassing activities developed in different contexts, namely classroom sessions led by the researcher and autonomous investigations carried out by students, using online tools to detect environmental problems in their community and identifying actors with responsibility positions such as local politicians and the school board. The results presented in this communication consist of students’ reflections about the images published at the International Business Times journal for the occasion of the World Water Day 2016. At the first classroom session, the students were invited to share their perspectives about photographs portraying scenarios on different countries, with people facing serious water pollution and scarcity problems. The activity was repeated 4 weeks later, at the end of the intervention period, with one of the experimental groups from the 8th grade, where 29 students chose an image to speak about. Students voices were recorded and the research actors’ narratives were transcribed to further perform a thematic analysis using NVIVO11 around the script topics: what is seen, what is felt, perception of near and remote realities, proposed solutions/strategies and identification of main obstacles. The process of categories establishment combined inductive and deductive approaches being data- and theory-driven (Braun & Clarke, 2006). The theoretical model used to search for pre-defined categories was based on the systematic presentation of currents in Environmental Education (EE) by Sauvé (2005), either considering longer tradition currents such as ‘Conservationist/Resourcist Current’ or more recent ones like ‘Socially Critical Current’. This referential was matched against participants’ emergent categories. The progressive data reduction was developed by one of the authors and a second one assumed the role of reviewer in order to ensure inter-subjective comprehensibility criterion (Steinke, 2004). The objective with this content analysis was both to detect eclectic discourses on students reflections, regarding the different currents in EE, and also to assess the intervention efficiency on developing to a sociopolitical engaged and critical thought, which will be complemented with quantitative analysis in terms of the students’ sense of personal and collective efficacy to propose solutions for global water problems.
In line with the targets of current international agendas and H2020 guidelines, regarding environmental education and societal challenges, this work aims at contributing to the state of the art by conceptualizing the social positioning of young adolescents as agency elements and not as merely recipients of the last knowledge in the field, assuming that high literacy is not sufficient to give them the possibility of living and contributing to a sustainable living world in the future. Thus, this school-based intervention project is concerned not only with supplying information towards increasing environmental literacy, but as well operationalizing educative strategies that can foster societal transformations through activism and critical positioning of young adolescents towards social justice and sustainability, advocating for environmental proposals at local and global levels in a democratic system. Conditions were created to give space and time for students to express themselves about current real images, from the real world, facing serious water needs. From the content analysis, it is expected to be found sociopolitical elements on their narratives, namely on the proposed solutions for the identified problems, as an outcome of the intervention strategy through which social responsibility was discussed, both at individual and also at collective levels, including local politicians and other social actors in power positions such as the school board. Giving students the opportunity to build their own narratives instead of supplying them with prescribed information, it is expected also to be found an eclectic set of elements framed by the different currents in EE, far beyond the one of Sustainable Development. It is foreseen that the results can then inform the practice of EE in order to extend the dimensions of the strategies in use to a broad sociopolitical realm, fostering active citizenship regarding local and global eco-responsibility and students’ awareness about the challenges of an inclusive and sustainable living world.
ABAE. (2013). Guia eco-escolas. Lisboa, Portugal: Margarida Gomes. Retrieved from https://ecoescolas.abae.pt/wp-content/uploads/sites/3/2014/09/Guia-do-professor1.pdf Braun, V., & Clarke, V. (2006). Using thematic analysis in psychology. Qualitative research in psychology, 3(2), 77-101 European Commission. (2017). Europe in a changing world – Inclusive, innovative and reflective societies. Brussels, Belgium: Directorate-General for Research and Innovation Freire, P. (2000). Pedagogy of the oppressed. Bloomsbury Publishing Kilbourne, W. E., Beckmann, S. C., & Thelen, E. (2002). The role of the dominant social paradigm in environmental attitudes: A multinational examination. Journal of Business Research, 55(3), 193-204 O’Flaherty, J., & Liddy, M. (2017). The impact of development education and education for sustainable development interventions: a synthesis of the research. Environmental Education Research, 1-19 Rogoff, B. (1998). Cognition as a collaborative process. In W. Damon (Ed.), Handbook of child psychology: Vol. 2. Cognition, perception, and language (pp. 679-744). Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley Sauvé, L. (2005). Currents in Environmental Education: Mapping a Complex and Evolving Pedagogical Field. Canadian Journal of Environmental Education, 10(1), 11-37 Steinke, I. (2004). Quality criteria in qualitative research. In U. Flick, E. Von Kardoff, & I. Steinke (Eds.), A companion to qualitative research (pp. 184–190). Los Angeles, CA: Sage United Nations. (2015). Transforming our world: the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. New York, United States: United Nations United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization. (2014). UNESCO roadmap for implementing the Global Action Programme on Education for Sustainable Development. Paris: UNESCO
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