Everyone is aware of the biggest global challenge today: climate change caused by humans must be slowed down and greenhouse gas emissions reduced as soon as possible.
But how to provide people with more detailed information on the subject to enable them to make the right choices and decisions in their lives? And what skills are needed in professional life for solving the problem of climate change and other grand challenges of sustainability?
Digital solutions offer potential for increasing knowledge pertaining to climate and sustainability challenges. Indeed, eight universities and three universities of applied sciences, together with their business partners, have now joined the Climate University project. The project’s goal is to develop various learning environments open to all and to increase the climate and sustainability expertise of higher education teachers. This way, awareness is also expected to spread to other sectors of society.
“Since challenges related to the climate and sustainability affect all of us, we hope for contributions from teachers of a wide range of subjects. For example, educational scientists and lawyers have been looking for information on these matters. Through teacher trainees, we will be able to reach future generations,” explains Laura Riuttanen, a postdoctoral researcher at the Institute for Atmospheric and Earth System Research INAR and coordinator of the project.
Last spring, the Climate University project received a total of approximately €1 million in funding from the Ministry of Culture and Education and the Finnish Innovation Fund Sitra.
Mastering the basics of climate change
There are already open online courses available on the subject of the climate and sustainability, such as Climate.now and Leadership for sustainable change, a course on change management related to circular economy.
Under the Climate University project, add-ons to existing courses, as well as two entirely new and extensive online courses open to all, are being developed through the collaboration of higher education institutions. Based on the openly available material, higher education institutions can organise courses for their students.
Online studies and other material are being developed in workshops of higher education teachers, eight of which will be organised in the next couple of years. The next workshops will be held in Jyväskylä and Turku.
The aim is to produce versatile and cross-disciplinary courses and teaching material. All higher education teachers are welcome to contribute. Proposals for new material can be submitted through an assessment of needs available on the project website.
Laura Riuttanen harbours a special vision on the outcome of teaching development focused on climate and sustainability topics.
“We need climate change solvers, which is why all higher education graduates should in future at least master the basics of climate change!”