Austrian students discussing climate change with scientists for a better future

Students are encouraged to go to the streets to raise their voice for climate protection, in order to convince more politicians of the importance of acting now. A new tool can help.

Auditorium. Photo.

Kick-Off event of the Austrian local network – welcoming 180 students. Photo: Susanne Kubisch.

October 15 marked the start of an exciting school year for 180 Austrian students, doing research and collaborating with scientists on the topic of climate change. Not only students, but also the Austrian local network team, who had organized the event under unsecure and challenging conditions, was excited to finally meet the students in person. Due to Covid-19 regulations, the kick-off event was planned in two runs in order to reduce the amount of those present. 

Alongside the Austrian local network team, (scientific) experts of the fields of climate change and environmental education, environmental protection, forest management and FridaysForFuture leaders, as well as the representative of the state governor of Tyrol, supported the students to trace climate change from the global level to their individual lives.  

From abstract notions to personal connections 

After welcoming the students and giving insight into the collaborative activities within the next school year, the students shared their association to different climate-related buzzwords and discussed with (scientific) experts in small groups. Whereas the buzzwords were more abstract in the first round e.g. “sustainability” or “participation of youths”, the second round was intended to associate and discuss the words in relation to the students’ own life.  

Keywords like “my city” or “my vision for the future” were discussed in association with climate change within the students' lifeworld in the second round. One student, for example, acknowledged that everybody needs to take responsibility, others stated “less plastic waste in the oceans” or “nobody should live in fear of climate-related natural hazards”.  

Keywords like “my city” or “my vision for the future” were discussed in association with climate change within the students' lifeworld 

Stories of climate change 

In a third round, the students were asked to “make sense” of an individual climate-related story by means of the SenseMaker tool. Students were asked to share a story, in which they were concerned by or experienced climate change in their life.

The students shared touching stories. Some students mentioned how they convinced their families to use alternative transport to go on holidays, instead of going by airplane, or how they aim at eating vegan.  

 

Photo of a bulletin board. Photo.
Findings of students discussion – buzzword “vision for a better future”. Photo: Susanne Kubisch.

At the end of the event, the representative of the state governor of Tyrol motivated the students to go to the streets to raise their voice for climate protection, in order to convince more politicians of the importance of acting now.

The discussions and SenseMaker stories already demonstrate how aware young people are in regard to climate change and we are pretty sure that the latest after this school year, students will go to the streets to raise their voice for a better future. 

By Susanne Kubisch University of Innsbruck
Published Dec. 3, 2021 10:37 AM - Last modified Dec. 3, 2021 10:38 AM
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The SEAS blog focuses on current research and activities in the intersection between scientific literacy, open schooling and sustainability challenges when students collaborate with families and stakeholders from civil society and industry in becoming agents of community well-being.