10.-11.10.2019 Climate University goes Oulu: Workshop with theme Climate education and communication

A month ago, University of Oulu welcomed the Climate University community and all interested professionals to the workshop arranged with theme “Climate education and communication”. One and a half days with interesting program awaited the guests. Dean of education from the Faculty of Science, Saana-Maija Huttula, opened the event by reminding that Climate University, like the University of Oulu, is doing utterly important work for the next generation.

It was heart-warming to acknowledge that many had chosen to travel to Oulu by train, climate-friendly. Unfortunately, sleep had not been guaranteed for everybody in the night train, but despite of that we started the workshop full of enthusiasm. Approximately 50 people took part in the first day of the workshop.

The first session of Thursday 10.10. was reserved for the Climate.now teachers, who exchanged experiences and plans regarding teaching the existing Climate.now course. Right after lunch, it was time to dive deep into the theme of the workshop. Five interesting presentations took us on a journey visiting different levels of climate education and communication.

The first presentation by Leena Pääsky from University of Oulu showed how teachers are trained to educate children about climate change. She was followed by Jussi Malila from University of Oulu and Jussi Tomberg from the City of Oulu, who introduced the two partly overlapping projects bringing climate change teaching to high schools in a way never seen before. From high schools we jumped into university level teaching, when prof. Erkki Karvonen from University of Oulu presented the unique master’s programme in Science Communication, and led the audience to think about the role of and challenges related to communicating (climate) science to different audiences. Finally, Niina Grönholm from Micropolis guided us through the preparation and execution of a climate change event targeted at lay audience: IlmastoAreena forum was arranged in the world famous city of Ii, with thousands of visitors attracted by the possibility to discuss about Climate Change.

Dizzy heads were soothed with berry smoothies, before rolling up sleeves. We got a sneek peek into DigiCampus platform by Tiina Vertanen, after which we divided into groups working on the development of new Climate University courses. Focus was on the high school course and the Climate Communications module.

Sense of community peaked at the end of the intense day, when falafel and climate-friendly pizzas (e.g. Stairway  to Heaven and Bobba Fetta) were shared at the eco-oriented restaurant Tuba Food & Lounge. While munching, we listened to Sustainability Science Open Mic presentations.

On Friday 11.10., the day started early, but with full force. Climate University coordinator meeting was intense and fruitful, as always. Meanwhile in another room, the Ilmastonmuutos lukioihin! project kick-off took place. After some fresh fruit and coffee to help brain function, around 70 people consisting of high school teachers, university teachers, Climate University people and students gathered at Tellus Arena to follow a panel discussion about the challenges of multidisciplinary teaching and learning.

Sari Harmoinen (Dean of education from the Faculty of Education at University of Oulu), Sakari Tolppanen (researcher from UEF), Kirsi Haapamäki (from Otaniemi high school), Veera Juntunen (a student from Univ. Oulu) and Viivi Ryhänen (a high school student from Oulun normaalikoulun lukio) provided interesting views and perspectives to the relevant topic of multidisciplinary teaching. The audience was activated, too: they provided questions and comments both traditionally and anonymously via the Mentimeter tool.

Based on the topics covered in the panel discussion, challenges were handed out to small groups formed from the audience. Guilt and hypocrisy, being out of comfort zone, climate anxiety, thinking in silos… Not the easiest questions! The groups started their discussion in silence, eyes closed, and gradually continued to conversations about the challenges and solutions. The session ended with an energetic “TV-shop commercial break”, where a representative from each group presented precision-weapons to tackle the tricky challenges. Maybe the solutions are in our hands (and in our ears), after all.

Food for thought, inspiration, connection and drive to continue our important work – that’s what Oulu provided!

Text: Mira Hulkkonen and Jussi Malila, University of Oulu

Photos: Laura Riuttanen, University of Helsinki