What kind of new educational materials do we need?

In this post we’ll an update on the Climate University needs assessment

Starting point: what are the skills needed to solve the grand challenges of climate change and sustainability?

One of the main aims of the Climate University project is to produce new educational materials based on the needs of the Finnish higher education field. The selection of materials is based on what materials are most needed in climate and sustainability education in Finnish universities.  In addition to wholly new materials we will produce smaller additions to the popular Climate.now (http://www.climatenow.fi/ ) To support the decisions on selection of materials, a needs assessment was conducted earlier this year.

In November 2018, we held the first kick-off workshop in Tiedekulma, at the University of Helsinki. The opening theme in the kick-off workshop was to examine the question of

“What kind of expertise (education) is needed in the near future, in order to answer the challenges of climate change and sustainability?”

After an interactive urban orienteering –themed interview of experts from various branches of the Finnish society, the workshop participants had a lively discussion on what the relevant skills and areas of expertise would be. Summarised, the main areas considered crucial for future education in the discussion were:

  • Multi-disciplinarity – crossing the traditional borders of natural (or technical, engineering) vs human (sociological) sciences is necessary
  • Holistic understanding of the challenges is required and systems thinking is important. It is important to try to see the bigger picture and not look at the challenges from a single, narrow angle
  • Impactful decisions are based on data and statistics, to but it is equally important to keep in mind the personal, human perspective (choices, values, ethics, principles) and create an emotional connection to the challenges, to bring about change in the society
  • Values and ethics should be included in the discussion of climate change and sustainability.
  • Science communication is key. Academic knowledge needs to be communicated to the decision makers, but academics equally need to understand political decision-making
  • Including the private sector and markets in answering the challenges and considering finances and the economics is needed, and (green technology) business opportunities and innovations need to be recognized. However, focusing too much on innovations and technical solutions may hinder grasping the bigger picture of the challenges.
  • Consumer perspective is important to consider – green choices need to be made easy. Sustainability education (in e.g. circular economy) in schools is necessary, to educate responsible citizens and customers of the future.

Specifically, we were urged by the participants not to fall for “silo mentality” or to classify materials of questionnaire themes by typical topical classifications. Therefore, the above listed themes were adopted as the basis for themes charted in the needs assessment questionnaire. Based on the project plan and the kick-off workshop feedback, both described above, a survey form was drafted. The survey was implemented using an online questionnaire and was answers were collected from January to March 2019.

The needs assessment survey: what did we as a community find important?

The survey received in total 49 responses. Most of the responses were from University personnel, which is the largest group of people forming the Climate University community. The respondents backgrounds were distributed rather evenly among the Finnish universities and the respondents generally represented more than one faculty or department at each university. Additionally to the universities’ representatives, we received multiple answers from other sections of the society such as schools, NGO’s and government institutes.

Statistics

In the “Materials” section of the questionnaire we asked the respondents to evaluate (i) the levels of need for materials and (ii) the respective expertise in their potential production in their organisation. The question included a numeric answer on a scale of 1 to 5 to each of the seven themes selected as well as a freeform additional comment (optional). The distribution of answers by the themes is shown below:

In addition to the averages and standard deviations of the numerical answers, we additionally calculated the difference between the need and expertise reported by the participants. This difference, which we here labeled “skill gap” can be taken to represent the need of outside expertise (or similarly the capability to offer expertise to others, if expertise > need; i.e. skill gap is negative). Please note this calculation is not a robust scientific one, but rather arbitrary metric we derived to have at least some measure for the overall balance of needs and expertise, as well as a measure of need for collaboration between the various universities.

From the statistics, we proposed three conclusions can be drawn:

  • The overall demand is highest (mean of ‘need’) for the two themes as of multi-disciplinarity and holistic understanding.
  • For the themes of ethics and values and consumer perspective, the discrepancy between estimated need and expertise (mean skill gap) is the highest, indicating an overall lack of expertise on these topics among the participating organisations.
  • The consumer perspective and private sector and markets themes feature the widest distributions (highest standard deviation) of ‘skill gap’, which we propose could be taken as a sign that co-operation between the organisations would be especially beneficial in these topics.

Freeform comments

Of the themes offered, multi-disciplinarity and holistic understanding  gathered the largest amount of supporting comments and propositions, e.g.:

“Especially in the technical areas, we need to be exposed to a view of the whole and how our endeavours fit in to healing the human condition and the planet!”

“I think we could make use of more material/cases on the holistic understanding of reasons behind climate change”

“Ilmastonmuutos systeemiajattelun valossa”

“Risk assessment, perception and communication”

The themes of consumer perspective, science communication private sector and markets also well represented among the comments:

“How to cooperate with companies and other organizations on climate issues: project work module” (Private sector and markets)

“New technological innovations emerging from the need to cut down carbon emissions – dealing with energy production, mobility solutions and businesses” (Private sector and markets)

“Not very much integrated to present  curriculum? Is of great importance.” (Science communication)

“Miten nostaa ilmastoaihe vakavaan keskusteluun monialaisessa ja kiireen vaivaamassa organisaatiossa? Miten puhutellaan johtoa tehokkaasti? Miten saadaan organisaatiosta irti parhaat tehot ilmastokysymyksessä?” (Science communication)

“reasoned discussion on how encouraging individual choices might spill over into demands on better regulation – instead of mutual stand-still & wait” (Consumer perspective)

“Yes, this is important  but why do we still want to talk about customers and consumers? People are becoming producers, and individuals’ role should be rethought.” (Consumer perspective)

Outside of the pre-selected themes, multiple respondents suggested in the freeform comments that a basic course on sustainability would be needed:

“Basics of sustainability e.g. based on planetary boundary and donut approaches. Explanations on each of the themes presented in both approaches.”

“Introduction to Sustainability: We propose a on-line course “Introduction to Sustainability” to provide  comprehensive basic/starting knowledge and skills for master students with various backgrounds.”

“On behalf of research group LUT/School of Energy Systems/Sustainability Science: Digital course “Introduction to Sustainability” to provide an overview of the variety of sustainability issues related to natural resources, technologies, sustainable and profitable business models, climate changes, food and water, systemic thinking etc.”

 

Summarising the survey results – the main conclusions:

  • – Themes considered most important: inter-disciplinarity and holistic understanding
  • – Sustainability (introductionary) course was mentioned and wished for many times!
  • – Topics that got several mentions, and align well with project goals: Industry / business collaboration and school collaboration
  • – Science communication raised many positive comments and was seen as important
  • – Other possible topics for smaller materials include for example
  • Climate change in Arctic/ Nordic areas, Ethics & values, Consumer perspective & active citizenship, Climate Law and
  • Data basis

Further developing the ideas

In the second Climate University workshop, held at the University of Jyväskylä 28.-29. March 2019, the results so far from the questionnaire were presented to the wider Climate University community.

From the basis of the survey result and discussion in the workshop, we decided to go forward with two main themes: (1) Introduction course to sustainability and (2) an ambitious, advanced course of systems thinking for unde4rstanding global change. We also decided to pursue smaller courses / materials for school and private sector co-operation, namely (3) a high school level online course based on Climate.now and (4) a project course based on working life challenges from industry and other collaborating partner organisations. There were also several ideas for smaller materials, the ideas of which we decided to refine.

The preliminary concepts for the four primary materials were discussed in small working groups in a session of the Jyväskylä workshop. Based on the survey results and preceding discussion, the groups discussed the concepts and summarized their ideas in form of quick posters. These ideas will add to the material available for further refinement of the course and material concepts.

To be continued…

Working groups have now been assigned for preliminary planning and refining of the ideas, and we will give an update of the progress at the next workshop in Turku, in May 7 to 8th. You are most welcome to discuss these materials and interesting themes with us!

The final needs assessment report, 14 May 2019.

Climate University -julkilausuma lukion opetussuunnitelmasta: ehdotus valtakunnallisesta ja maksuttomasta ilmastonmuutos-verkkokurssista

Climate University -työpajoissa Helsingissä ja Jyväskylässä koettiin tärkeäksi ottaa kantaa lukion opetussuunnitelmauudistukseen. Laadimme opetushallitukselle 11.4.2019 toimitettavan julkilausuman (alla), jonka voi allekirjoittamassa  osoitteessa

https://elomake.helsinki.fi/lomakkeet/97465/lomake.html

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Tiedeyhteisö on yksimielinen siitä, että ilmastonmuutos on merkittävä ihmiskuntaa uhkaava ilmiö. Ilmastonmuutoksen ratkaisemisessa seuraavat 10-12 vuotta ovat kriittiset (IPCC 2018). Tämä heijastuu ilmastobarometrissa, jossa 80 % suomalaisista katsoo, että ilmastonmuutoksen hillitseminen edellyttää uutta osaamista (Ilmastobarometri 2019). Nuorisobarometrin mukaan ilmastonmuutos koetaan myös nuorten keskuudessa yhä isommaksi uhaksi (Nuorisobarometri 2019). Onkin erittäin tärkeä varmistaa, että lukion opetussuunnitelmassa on turvattu riittävästi ilmastonmuutokseen  liittyvää valtakunnallista ja ratkaisukeskeistä opetusta.

Climate University (https://blogs.helsinki.fi/climateuniversity/) on 11 korkeakoulun, toisen asteen oppilaitosten, yritysten ja muiden yhteistyötahojen verkosto, jossa kehitetään monitieteistä verkko-opetusta kestävästä kehityksestä ja ilmastonmuutoksesta. Climate Universityä rahoittaa opetus- ja kulttuuriministeriö sekä Sitra. Tämä julkilausuma on valmisteltu Climate Universityn piirissä ja allekirjoittaneet antavat sille tukensa.

Ehdotamme, että lukion opetussuunnitelmaan lisätään valtakunnallinen Ilmastonmuutos-verkkokurssi.

Uudistetun lukiolain 8 §:ään (714/2018) on linjattu tarve lisätä korkeakoulujen ja lukioiden välistä yhteistyötä. Kaikilla lukiolla ei ole mahdollista järjestää tätä yhteistyötä ilman verkko-opetusta, esimerkiksi sijainnista johtuen.

Tämän vuoksi ehdotamme, että lukioasteelle perustetaan maksuton, valtakunnallinen, korkeakoulujen kanssa yhteistyössä tehtävä verkkokurssi, jonka sisältönä on ilmastonmuutos ja sen ratkaiseminen. Tällaisen verkkokurssin pohjana voi toimia jo olemassa oleva korkeakoulujen yhteistyönä toteutettu monialainen Ilmasto.nyt (Climate.now) -verkko-opintokokonaisuus.

Ehdotamme, että kurssi sijoitetaan opetussuunnitelmassa osaksi temaattisten opintojen kokonaisuutta ja sen laajuus on 2 opintopistettä.

Ilmastonmuutos-verkkokurssi toteuttaa lukion opetussuunnitelman arvoperustaa

Kiitämme, että lukion opetussuunnitelman perusteiden luonnoksessa (LOPS 2021-luonnos) huomioidaan hyvin ne tiedot ja taidot, joita tarvitaan sopeutumisessa ilmastonmuutoksen aikakauden vaatimuksiin ja ratkaisujen löytämiseen, ks. kohdissa 2.2 Arvoperusta, 3.4 Toimintakulttuuri (teemat: Hyvinvointi ja kestävä tulevaisuus sekä Osallisuus ja yhteisöllisyys) ja 6.2. laaja-alaisen osaamisen tavoite (eettisyys ja ympäristöosaaminen, mm. tutkimustietoon perustuva ilmasto-osaaminen).

Ehdotetun korkeakoulujen toteuttaman ilmastonmuutos-verkkokurssin tarkoituksena on toteuttaa opetuksessa edellä mainittuja opetussuunnitelman luonnoksen tavoitteita.

Ilmastonmuutosta käsitellään ehdotetulla ilmastonmuutos-verkkokurssilla eri tieteenalojen näkökulmasta monipuolisesti. Kurssi rakentuu kestävän kehityksen mukaiseksi kokonaisuudeksi, jossa painottuvat ratkaisukeskeisyys ja opiskelijan toimijuus ja taidot. Opiskelija tunnistaa ilmastonmuutoksen vaikutukset yhteiskuntaan yksilön ja yhteisöjen näkökulmasta tieteeseen ja tutkimukseen pohjautuen. Opiskelija kasvaa tarkastelemaan ilmastonmuutosta eri ratkaisuista ja tiedonlähteistä käsin sekä ymmärtää omat toimintamahdollisuutensa.

Ilmastonmuutos-verkkokurssi toteuttaa ja vahvistaa korkeakouluyhteistyötä ja digitaitoja

Lukion opetussuunnitelman perusteiden luonnoksen (LOPS 2021-luonnos) mukaan lukion opetus ja muu toiminta järjestetään siten, että opiskelijoilla on yhtäläiset ja monipuoliset mahdollisuudet saada tietoa ja kokemuksia korkeakouluopiskelusta (3.6 Korkeakouluyhteistyö). Lisäksi luonnoksen mukaan opiskeluympäristöä laajennetaan oppilaitoksen ulkopuolelle tieto- ja viestintäteknologian avulla (3.3 Opiskeluympäristöt ja -menetelmät).

Kiinnitämme huomiota, että LOPS2021-luonnoksessa on huomioitu lukiolain vaatima yhteistyö korkeakoulujen kanssa tavoitetasolla. Nämä tavoitteet ovat tunnistettu hyvin, mutta tavoitteiden toteutumista ei ole turvattu kurssitasolla valtakunnallisesti. Valtakunnallinen ja maksuton verkkokurssi edistäisi korkeakouluyhteistyön toteutumista yhdenvertaisesti koko Suomessa  ja vastaisi LOPS2021-luonnoksen edellä mainittuihin opiskeluympäristöihin ja korkeakouluyhteistyöhön liittyviin tavoitteisiin. Näin jokaisella opiskelijalla on mahdollisuus saada aidosti kokemusta korkeakoulujen toteuttamasta opetuksesta. Ilmastonmuutos-verkkokurssin jälkeen opiskelijan voisi halutessaan syventää opintojaan korkeakoulujen tarjoamilla kursseilla.

Opetussuunnitelma ohjaa opetusta useita vuosia, joiden aikana myös tieto ilmastonmuutoksesta ja siihen liittyvistä toimintakeinoista ehtii muuttua. Verkkokurssin vahvuutena on mahdollisuus päivittää ja muokata tietoa joustavasti. Ilmastonmuutos-verkkokurssi, jota korkeakoulut yhdessä ylläpitävät ja päivittävät, vastaisi tähän tarpeeseen ja takaisi jokaiselle lukiolaiselle ajantasaisen tiedon ilmastonmuutoksesta ja keinoista, jolla siihen voi sopeutua ja vaikuttaa. Jokainen lukiolainen saisi myös arvokasta kokemusta verkko-oppimisesta.

Climate University -toimijat ovat valmiita tuottamaan ilmastonmuutosverkkokurssin lukioille

Climate University tuottaa verkkokursseja ilmasto- ja kestävyysaiheista 2019-2020. Climate University -toimijat ovat valmiita tuottamaan ilmastonmuutosverkkokurssin lukioille yhteistyössä 11 korkeakoulun, toiseen asteen oppilaitosten sekä muiden yhteistyökumppanien kanssa: https://blogs.helsinki.fi/climateuniversity/who-are-we.

Julkilausuma luovutetaan Opetushallitukselle 11.4.2019. Me allekirjoittaneet annamme tukemme sille, että lukion opetussuunnitelmaan lisätään yllä ehdotetun lailla valtakunnallinen ja maksuton ilmastonmuutos-verkkokurssi. Olemme valmiita tuottamaan sen Climate Universityn 11 korkeakoulun, toisen asteen oppilaitosten sekä muiden Climate University -toimijoiden kanssa.

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Voit halutessasi allekirjoittaa julkilausuman osoitteessa:

https://elomake.helsinki.fi/lomakkeet/97465/lomake.html

Summary of the Climate University kick off workshop in Helsinki 27.-28.11.2018

The first Climate University workshop was organized in Tiedekulma, in Helsinki, in November 2018. Below, you will find a short summary of the main events, discussions and conclusions of this kick-off workshop.

 

Opening of the event

The event was opened by Chancellor Kaarle Hämeri and Chief Digital Officer (CDO) Jaakko Kurhila from University of Helsinki. Chancellor Hämeri highlighted the mission of universities of bringing science to the society – this aspect is also at the heart of our project of bringing together actors from various branches of the society with a common agenda of answering the climate and sustainability challenges in the field of education.

 

CDO Kurhila proposed an idea of a digital constitution for universities, an idea that is certainly timely at a moment when in addition to digital materials and services, as also education is adapting more and more online–oriented teaching and learning methods.

 

Orientation and orienteering: what is needed to solve the sustainability crisis?

The first activity of the first day was “urban orienteering”, where the participants were tasked to find the answer for the underlying, major question of the entire CU project:

What kind of expertise (education) is needed in the near future, in order to answer the challenges of climate change and sustainability?

To answer this, the participants toured the city in small groups and interviewed people from various government institutes, NGOs, economic experts and many other relevant societal actors.

The weather favored us, with a sunny day and overall it seemed the orienteering activity was well received!

 

 

 

The thoughts and findings of the orienteering were summarized in the afternoon. The groups’ reports were thoughtful and varied, but some main themes seemed to emerge. In synthesis, the expertise and skills that were found to be the ones most acutely needed were:

·         Multidisciplinary – crossing the traditional borders of natural (or technical, engineering) vs human (sociological) sciences is necessary

·         Holistic understanding of the challenges is required and systems thinking is important. It is important to try to see the bigger picture and not look at the challenges from a single, narrow angle

·         Impactful decisions are based on data and statistics, to  but it is equally important to keep in mind the personal, human perspective (choices, values, ethics, principles) and create an emotional connection to the challenges, to bring about change in the society

·         Science communication is key. Academic knowledge needs to be communicated to the decision makers, but academics equally need to understand political decision-making

·         Including the private sector and markets in answering the challenges and considering finances and the economics is needed, and (green technology) business opportunities and innovations need to be recognized. However, focusing too much on innovations and technical solutions may hinder grasping the bigger picture of the challenges.

·         Consumer perspective is important to consider – green choices need to be made easy. Sustainability education (in e.g. circular economy) in schools is necessary, to educate responsible citizens and customers of the future.

We were very impressed with the results of this activity, and the thoughtful analysis of the groups, and proposed these topics also to be taken as the basis for our needs assessment that was recently conducted!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Innovation workshop: how can universities and private sector come together to advance education?

On Tuesday afternoon, we delved into the topic of collaborating over the traditional borders of academia and private sector. We had a delightfully broad representation from our partner companies and other organizations (Sitra, Climate Leadership Coalition, NollaE oy, Useless Company, Demos Helsinki, ESRI Finland, AW-Energy, CGI, Pöyry, Nordea, Climate-KIC), who first presented their perspectives on climate and sustainability challenges and prospects for collaboration on educational activities.

We then divided the participants to groups which included representatives both from education sector and businesses, and tasked them to come up with forms of collaboration that would be beneficial for both the companies and the universities. Again, the outcome was a thoughtful discussion that identified many of the challenges but also potential solutions for them. As a summary, the main conclusions were the following.

  • There are incentives for the enterprises to collaborate with schools and universities (promote teaching relevant skills, public relations, research and development etc.).
  • One major challenge is the time requirements for co-operation, both for the often busy company representatives and the teachers. There should be a pre-planned template for the collaboration, so that it is quick and easy for the companies to evaluate the collaboration proposal and say yes or no.
  • Collaboration should include genuine interaction between the enterprises and the students and it should include regular meetings. Students and company contacts should both be included in planning of the co-operative projects.
  • As a concrete proposal: project work based on challenges presented by the companies. Student groups should be multi-disciplinary.

We hear these messages forward, and will include these challenges in the needs assessment questions. Our aim is to try to refine a functional concept for how a fruitful collaboration could best be best.

To wrap up this very positive first workshop day, we had workshop dinner, (made entirely of leftover raw materials!) at restaurant Loop in Lapinlahti.

 

Climate.now

Climate.now is an online course, or learning material, provided at the University of Helsinki MOOC platform: www.climatenow.fi (in Finnish Ilmasto.nyt, www.ilmastonyt.fi). Anyone can study the material for free any time and get a MOOC certificate from the platform. Eight universities in Finland offer courses based on the material: University of Helsinki – also via open university, LUT University, Aalto University, Metropolia University of Applied Sciences, University of Jyväskylä, University of Eastern Finland, University of Oulu, and University of Tampere. In the Climate.now workshop we heard experiences from these courses. We also heard that the material has been used by other organizations, like Protect our winters and Mothers in business. We discussed the opportunity to make Climate.now more international, and the opportunity to make a shorter easily accessible version to attract more laymen.

 

Climate University Goes to Schools

As a parallel workshop session, we had an event where we discussed potential for co-operation between different levels of education in Finland, with representatives from basic to university education. We had short presentations on past and existing successful activities in schools, related to climate and sustainability, and got a wide range of positive examples of such education inspiringly arranged!

In the main discussions of the school workshop, the following conclusions were reached:

  • The Climate University community should influence the planning of the upcoming, new national curricula for the Finnish schools. We should promote including climate and sustainability topics in the school curricula. We should prepare a petition on this for the government officials in charge of the preparation work (by February 2019). Such a petition should be signed by the university representatives, but also widely by companies and NGO’s.

  • In was noted most teachers use existing course books, and may be hesitant to use online material. It was proposed the Climate University community could endorse school textbooks that cover the environment / sustainability topics, with some sort of a “seal of approval”. Same is applicable for online material, and coordination / collection / pre-selection of online material would be beneficial.

  • Themed periods of “phenomenon learning” could be based on climate and sustainability topics. These should cover a wide range of subjects (both natural and human sciences topics).

  • Climate / sustainability university level courses should be tailored to the needs of schools (lyceum) education. The three components that should be considered are: 1) students should get course credits at their schools (lyceum), or a diploma 2) the students should get university level study credits 3) completing a number of these studies should form a flexible pathway to university studies.

Again, these topics will be included and furthered, and we selected the main ones to be further examined for our needs assessment survey. The group concurred that we should start a working group to promote inclusion of climate and sustainability topics to the school curriculums in 2019 and that a permanent network or a forum of some sort would be needed to effectively communicate.

In these constructive and optimistic spirits, we were happy to conclude the opening workshop of our Climate university project! We would like to once more wholeheartedly thank all the participants who helped us make this event the positive experience it definitely was! We are looking forward to the next workshop, held in Jyväskylä, with more information in the next blog post!

 

  Mikko and Laura