Kuben Makes a Change in a Changing world

As 126 students at Kuben secondary school were experimenting with change in their own lives the world was hit by the largest change experiment in decades; the COVID-19 pandemic. Being able to take perspectives on change suddenly became very relevant as the impacts of and the responses to the pandemic also made its way to Oslo.

Photo of Kuben videregående skole with the text KubenMakesaChange

(Photo: Kuben videregående skole).

KUBEN makes a change

Before the world went into lock-down due to COVID-19, the students at Kuben secondary school had been exploring change for two weeks. They had all chosen one change they wanted to do for themselves and the environment for 30 days, aiming to explore why change sometimes is easy and other times hard. #Kubenmakesachange used the cCHALLENGE tool, following a transformative program with personal coaching in this 30-day experiment with change.

An important part of the cCHALLENGE approach is to focus on experimenting with change, rather than cutting emissions, to shift the focus from “being the best” to learning about the processes of sustainability transformation.

This involves reflecting on how behavioural changes are influenced by larger systems and structures, by social norms, by individual and shared beliefs, values, and worldviews. In this way, sustainability is something the students engage with and are part of. It is education about transformation, education for transformation – and education as transformation.

Knowing change in a changing world

Of course, when COVID-19 hit Norway, the students’ individual change experiments may have seemed insignificant compared to the global changes that arrived. It was difficult for many to keep focus on their project. Time had to be spent to adapt and learn new ways of schooling, both for teachers and students. Practical challenges, the normal structures of life transformed, and the whole family working from home…

And really, “Kuben makes a change” was exactly that; an exploration of change. The students had therefore already been exposed to different dimensions of change. This in turn could help them navigate and understand the complexities of this new situation, and give opportunities for reflections and conversations. Although it became difficult for students and teachers to keep their focus on the project, some students still reported good learning experiences.

“The challenge is almost over, and I have learned a great deal. Firstly, I have learned that it is possible to survive without meat for 30 days. Secondly, I have learned to think of new food alternatives. Last, but not least, it has shown that it doesn’t take much to change a habit. This can be helpful to fight the global crises we are up against - student at Kuben.

In the aftermath of the lock-down what would be interesting to explore is how cCHALLENGE and open schooling can engage students in learning about sustainability in ways that support them in believing that they matter and inspire them to act:

“I am very proud of myself, and hope that can help me to change habits.”- student at Kuben.

How do we teach the young about the world?

There is an emerging question of how schools can be an arena for not only fostering deep learning and reflection in climate change and sustainability, but also how it can support students to become agents of change. Within this lay the challenge of supporting students in exploring a wider set of decision choices that they feel is important to them related to sustainability and local context.

It also involves fostering collaboration between school and other stakeholders locally so that schools become a relevant partner in conversations about sustainability and an arena for learning and engagement for the broader community.

What the collaboration so far in the Norwegian local network in SEAS experience is that there is a gap between what students are learning is at stake and their role, and what is called for by the science and what the students are asking for.

Filling this gap is about exploring and experimenting. “Kuben Makes a Change” was one such experiment and it has open up the solution space for what education for transformation and education as transformation can look like.

The story of Kuben is not over, and we are looking forward to the continued conversations and explorations of new ways of doing and being in the months and years to come.

”The challenge has become part of my everyday life now, so I cannot and I don’t want to stop. There has been ups and downs in the challenge, but all in all it went well in the end. Hope we can have more of these types of challenges that can truly help us"- student at Kuben.


Visit the project page for #kubenmakesachange (Norwegian website).

By Teresia Aarskog, Linda Sygna, Norwegian Local Network in SEAS
Published June 23, 2020 7:13 AM - Last modified June 23, 2020 11:55 AM
Trær og solskinn

Blogging for transformational change

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.