Researchers at the University of Helsinki develop sustainability learning for Early Childhood Education and Care
Sustainability has become a must in all education aiming at all age groups. However, most research focuses on sustainability education in schools. Especially in Finland, there is nearly no research in the field of sustainability in Early Childhood Education and Care (ECEC). To fill this gap we, three researchers and teacher educators at the Faculty of Education at the University of Helsinki, decided to create the project SUSTE (Sustainable Stories in Early Childhood Education and Care). The focus of SUSTE is particularly sustainability in Finnish ECEC.
In Finland, there is nearly no research in the field of sustainability in ECEC. SUSTE strives to fill this gap.
The SUSTE project is not only a research project, but it is simultaneously an intervention project that strives to promote change in the learning environments and routines of ECEC settings, like nurseries and preschools. Since the project team includes three university lecturers/researchers specialized in different teaching training topics, the project is also interdisciplinary in nature. Our expertize fields are a combination of language, narrative, aesthetics, science and philosophy. We employ all these fields jointly with sustainability as the foundation. Thus, we try to reach beyond the limits of the different topics and create a transdisciplinary understanding of sustainability education and learning.
The SUSTE project aims at professional development of sustainability competences among student teachers and staff in day care and pre-primary settings. A primary interest is to explore how sustainability competencies can be developed through multimodal storytelling in the context of ECEC. Hence, the focus of research is the mutual learning processes of the participating practitioners, student teachers, and researchers.
SUSTE has a primary interest in exploring how sustainability competencies can be developed through multimodal storytelling in the context of ECEC.
The project consists of three main parts. Firstly, we study how sustainability is currently envisioned and enacted in Finnish ECEC. Secondly, we arrange research circles, tutoring, workshops, and seminars for practitioners and student teachers. Thirdly, we empirically explore the learning processes during this complex professional development process.
The expected outcome of the project is of a two-fold nature. Firstly, it prompts the development of new sustainability theories and practices. Secondly, it enhances dialogues about sustainability education and learning between students, researchers and practitioners. Some student teachers in ECEC, for example, participate in the project by writing bachelor and master theses with sustainability education topics.
In this blog various people engaged in the SUSTE project communicate what is going on in the project and share the ups and downs that might occur during the joint learning processes in both words and pictures. The blog is an open way to share experiences and actively create sustainability education in ECC. Therefore, by following this blog you receive insight to the progress of the SUSTE project. So, stay alert!
Christin, Lily & Hannah, March 6, 2019