Science education for action and engagement towards sustainability

01 September 2019 → 31 August 2022
European funding: framework programme
Research disciplines
  • Social sciences
    • Ecological anthropology
Other information
Project description

The main objective of the Science Education for Action and Engagement Towards Sustainability (SEAS) is to establish, coordinate and evaluate collaboration among six open schooling networks led by universities and science centres with partners in Austria, Belgium, Estonia, Italy, Norway, Sweden, and the UK. As part of these networks, and drawing on principles of inquiry-based science learning for transformative engagement, students in formal schools are given the opportunity to engage in addressing real-life, complex sustainability challenges that are identified and dealt with together with participants and stakeholders in the local community. SEAS develops and makes us of models for open-schooling implementation that supports schools and out-of-school institutions to collaborate in the promotion, among students and citizens in the larger community, of 21st century scientific literacy and skills for responsible citizenship. SEAS delivers enhanced opportunities for students and citizens to develop deeper interest in science and inclusive scientific literacy, both in the target communities and beyond them taking into account gender, socioeconomic status and geographical differences. By providing facilitation and mediation tools and methods for the identification and implementation of sustainability challenges in the participants’local communities, SEAS makes it possible for students to collaborate with families and stakeholders from civil society and industry in becoming agents of community well-being. SEAS provides participants with the necessary expertise, networking, and sharing resource experience to address these challenges and, in doing so, develop deeper scientific literacy skills and interest in science education and careers. SEAS also contributes to generating models and experiences for ways in which science education inside and outside of the school may become part of the solution to some of the greatest challenges of our times.

Role of Ghent University
Within SEAS, Ghent University coordinates an open schooling network that engages with the topic of sustainable cities and communities (Sustainable Development Goal 11). In this network, we support schools and environmental education (EE) centres to collaborate with local stakeholders to utilise local sustainability challenges as fruitful learning environments for fostering scientific literacy for sustainability citizenship. We focus in particular on a tool for collaborative planning of open schooling practices starting from locally relevant sustainability challenges, LORET – Locally Relevant Teaching. In a first phase (year 1-2) researchers from Ghent University collaborate with the government of Flanders (Eco-schools programme MOS) in some pilot schools and an environmental education (EE) centre. Within this local network, we directly involve the school teams, the educators of the EE centre, its visitors and the class groups that participate in EE programmes as well as local stakeholders (businesses, NGOs, policymakers, etc.) with whom the schools and centre collaborate. Together with the MOS coaches, the researchers support the schools and EE centre to identify and select locally relevant challenges to make their city and community more sustainable, connect them to the curriculum (learning objectives for diverse subjects as well as cross-curricular objectives) and co-create teaching and learning activities (lesson plans). In this densely populated region, issues such as affordable and sustainable housing, safe and sustainable transportation, sustainable urbanisation and spatial planning, air quality, waste management, green public spaces, sustainable food production and consumption, etc. are hot topics. Based on these pilots, SEAS’ tools and methods will be further tailored and fine-tuned in view of a broad, efficient dissemination throughout Flanders in phase 2 (year 3). An online manual, database and conference will facilitate the up-scaling of LORET-based open schooling in Flanders. UGent also coordinates WP5 – Global Assessment & Synthesis.