Creating trans disciplinary educational projects to tackle climate challenges

The challenge

Climate change is increasingly affecting social and ecological systems, ruled by complex interconnections that demand urgent attention in the 21st century. It is no longer a case of scientific prediction, but a stark reality that climate change is leading to dramatic changes in the planetarium dynamics, which are having a direct harmful impact on societies and economies, all around the world.

Along with these concerns, many questions arise regarding the approach required to achieve a carbon neutral economy, and to change not just the collective mindsets, but furthermore, the societal behaviour in how to address this transition. There is not a single isolated way to tackle this challenge, but instead a holistic system approach is required.

Education has been a key element in our society to unify diverse groups of individuals, build the knowledge and skills to unluck barriers, create value, and moreover shape behaviours in the short and long run. But, how do academic institutes best train the next generation of professionals, that adequately prepares them for the challenges of the 21st century? The Willem de Kooning Academie (WdKA) in Rotterdam is ready to confront this challenge.

The solution

On 17 December 2019, the WdKA, with the support of EIT Climate-KIC, organised a Learning Experiment in Rotterdam Zuid. The aim of this event was to create a dynamic learning environment, in which the participants worked together on a single goal: to develop students of higher education (MBO, HBO, WO), with a new palette of ‘climate change proof’ skills that would directly affect the city of Rotterdam, in the short and long term.

This event convocated around 40 participants, who represented multiple stakeholder groups of the city of Rotterdam, such as academic institutions (MBO, HBO, WO levels), designers, local entrepreneurial businesses, policy makers and experts on the field.  

During this Experiment, stakeholders came up with two main solutions:

  • To collaborate along the different educational levels, with the support of the Municipality of Rotterdam, to enrich the overall understanding of the varied curricula and the demands of climate change.
  • To create educational projects around climate change that allow a trans disciplinary approach, through ‘leaning by doing’, while connecting students enrolled in different academic levels, in the city of Rotterdam. In this way, the professionals of tomorrow will gain the knowledge and skills required to solve the increasing challenges faced by our society on this century.

The impact

  • This Learning Experiment has planted the seed among several stakeholders, that includes both public and private sectors of the city of Rotterdam, to continue working hand to hand on local opportunities, towards the construction of a more sustainable society and city.
  • On February 2020, WdKA has organized a second phase experiment, that will exclusively involve representatives of the Municipality of Rotterdam and policy makers, to discuss together the opportunities in the public sector to support the education system, for the training of students that are ready to tackle climate change.
  • Several projects have been discussed and set for 2020, between the educative institutes WdKA (HBO) and Albeda (MBO), to work together on practical solutions around sustainable fashion, food production, and social campaigns.
  • By creating trans disciplinary educational projects, the academic institutes involved would satisfy the demands of young students to learn and work on real challenges around climate change.
  • These initiatives could lead to important transformations of the curricula of several education institutes in the MBO, HBO and WO system, which helps them adapt to the needs of the 21st century, and prepare professionals who are ready to play an active role in climate change mitigation and adaptation.
  • The city of Rotterdam, its members and institutes are acting according to the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) defined by the United Nations. The main SDGs addressed are: Sustainable cities & communities, Climate action, and Partnership for the goals.

The role of EIT Climate-KIC

Over the last years, EIT Climate-KIC has assembled a great variety of entrepreneurial organisations and public institutes. On this occasion, EIT Climate-KIC supported and funded the organisation of the Learning Experiment,  led by the Willem de Kooning Academie.

This event brought together relevant actors in the network of the educational system, to find opportunities and act holistically towards climate change mitigation and adaptation, in the city of Rotterdam.

For more information on this Learning Experiment, please access the full report.

 
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