Teachers and students on the front line of caring and protecting biodiversity
Italy is one of Europe's most important reservoirs of biodiversity: it is home to half of all plant species and around one third of all animal species currently on the continent. But this wealth is now seriously threatened by human activities and the effects of climate change. We often are not aware of that, because there is not enough knowledge of the importance of stable ecosystems that are resilient to climate change. Green it Up! promotes actions, behaviours and active participation to make young people protagonists of change, through educational paths and citizen science experiences on the territory.
We want to make the school community a protagonist in the protection of biodiversity and the fight against climate change. To do this, we directly involve primary and secondary school students in training and activation paths. Infact, the transition towards a greener and fairer society is in the hands of tomorrow's citizens.
School: a priority
Teachers play an essential role in the upbringing of the new generations, but they do not always have the right pedagogical tools to deal with climate crisis issues in the classroom. Transversal skills, transdisciplinary paths and participative methodologies are often required. Through dedicated training courses, we explore with them both environmental issues and new learning methodologies, such as gamification and collaborative learning. Thanks to LeaF – Learn for the future, the e-learning platform of Istituto Oikos, educators and teachers can benefit from video lessons, slides and downloadable teaching material with many examples of practical activities to carry out in the classroom. We also created a programme of 10 live and recorded webinars about global citizenship education, eco-anxiety, fake news and Steam fields (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Math) subjects to promote social inclusion.
A virtual collaborative platform
Exchange and discussion on the topics of Civic Education and Sustainable Development is essential for us. For this reason, we organize the National Forum on Civic Education, a two-day event in hybrid form. The most important aim of the event is to create a virtual collaborative platform for teachers, which gathers the best practices of schools and becomes a permanent space for sharing different experiences throughout the country.
Our work with school students also continues out of the classroom. We want to train a generation of “Green Agents - Guardians of the Territory”, involving students in the planning and implementation of territorial initiatives and awareness-raising campaigns for adults, but above all for their peers. It is essential for children to learn how to think critically and take action themselves to promote real change. Through the “Biodiversity Mosaic” initiative, students aged between 9 and 13 from eight Italian regions become explorers and photographers of the biodiversity in the areas in which they live. All their shots are collected in an interactive, multimedia map, created by the students themselves.
The future Green Agents also have the opportunity to take part in a national competition for peer education events, to design environmental communication events to be implemented in their own school. The competition is part of a broader digital awareness-raising campaign that we will be running during all the project. Also in this case young people play a key role, because we encourage them to take part in local initiatives to demand concrete action from politicians through call to action, petitions and social challenges.
Then we will organize the “Influence the change” event together with green influencers and science communicators. It is a multi-voice meeting to tell how young people can reduce their environmental impact in their consumption choices, from fashion to food, even in their own small way.
Citizen science: learning about and protecting local biodiversity
We propose environmental volunteering activities and “bioblitzes” in which students and citizens learn how to collect environmental data and identify different species in the area, learning about the mechanisms of scientific research.
The common purpose of all these initiatives is to strengthen the role of schools as the main educational and cultural lever, that is able to encourage the new generations to learn about the main challenges of our time and then make a concrete commitment to defend the nature, the most precious thing to us.
Green it Up! is possible thanks to the support of AICS – Italian Agency for Development Cooperation, and the collaboration with a network of partners throughout the country: Odv- CeVI Centro di Volontariato Internazionale, Associazione Rondine Cittadella della Pace, Province of Varese, Associazione Italiana Insegnanti di Geografia – AIIG, Astronatura Società Cooperativa sociale, Associazione Proteus, Gruppo Pleiadi, Incontra e Palermo Urban Solutions Hub – PUSH.
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