The open-schooling network in Austria is a collaboration between the research group Education and Communication for Sustainable Development at the Department of Geography at the University of Innsbruck and Austrian and German schools. See also the project website at the University of Innsbruck.
Beside students, teachers and scientists, it further comprises university students, as well as experts in the research field of climate change and cryosphere, biosphere, pedosphere, tourism and environmental ethics. The overall aim of the project is to raise young people’s awareness of climate change and its impacts, and, eventually, to strengthen their own adaption capacities and their ability to act in order to cope with climate change challenges they already are and will be faced.
The participants mental concepts about climate change have shown to expand and progress through the project, and the local network is now one of the main drivers in order to contribute to anchoring Education for Sustainable Development and Climate Change Education in Austrian school and university curricula.
Inquiry-based explorative learning
The concept focuses on inquiry-based explorative learning in authentic moderate constructivist learning settings. At the beginning of the school year, the project starts with a kick-off workshop with students, teachers, scientists and climate change experts to initiate the dialogue between young people and science, and to exchange basic information about the project aims.
During the school year, the students are involved in classical school lessons on climate change in various subjects, but they also work on individual sustainability and climate change related projects in research questions of their own choice.
Alpine Research Week
During the Alpine Research Week, the teenagers have a chance to explore climate change indicators during a five-day research stay in the high mountains (e.g. Ötztal Valley, Tyrol, Austria) as the final highlight of the one-year project. In that time, they investigate climate change from different perspectives and develop individual questions with the support of climate change scientists, who, in exchange, gain insight into the students' ideas and perceptions of climate change.
The overall project success is monitored and evaluated continuously by quantitative and qualitative studies. Lessons to be learnt and the adaptation of the k.i.d.Z.21 educational setting are derived from the results.
Corner, A., Roberts, O., Chiari, S., Völler, S., Mayrhuber, E., Mandl, S., & Monson, K. (2015). How do young people engage with climate change? The role of knowledge, values, message framing, and trusted communicators. WIREs Clim Change(6), pp. 523-534. doi:10.1002/wcc.353