“Teachers are in a central role as change agents! In the program, we seek new ways to promote sustainability education for teachers, and simultaneously, we learn from each other”, says professor Maija Aksela, the leader of the University of Helsinki’s part of PRESS.
The promoting of sustainability requires educated citizens for responsible action and change of contemporary society. The PRESS (Relevance Education in Science for Sustainability)-project, aims to respond to this need, by promoting the development of skills in universities to educate STEM-teachers into experts of sustainability education.
Within the frames of the PRESS-program a new course is being developed – it will be for STEM-teacher education and the focus is on sustainability education. The course will be a part of the mandatory teacher education in a PRESS-partner university, in Indonesia, Georgia and Israel. In addition to the University of Helsinki, universities responsible for the education in the Erasmus+-program are University of Bremen from Germany (leader of the program) and University of Klagenfurt Austria.
The partner of the program, the unit of chemistry teacher education at the University of Helsinki, has about 20 years of experience from research-based development of sustainability in teacher education. In addition to ecological, social and cultural sustainability – the economic perspective – for example in the form of circular economy, is on display. For 15 years, the LUMA-lab, ChemistryLab Gadolin, business partners have been involved in developing new openings.
Media skills as a part of science teacher education
In the new course, scientific media literacy is one of the contents. During the visit, partners get to know Finnish expertise in a versatile manner, the multidisciplinary science education of the University of Helsinki and gain perspectives on developing science teacher education.
Responsible actions in society requires skills in participation, which are inseparable from independent media exposure. In terms of sustainability, important goals for education – often and especially science education – are critical scientific media literacy and communication skills with society’s stakeholders. Therefore, PRESS-courses which address sustainability, involve especially critical scientific media education and scientific communication skills for a large audience, which also concern traditional and digital media as well as social media. The courses also contain cooperation with capital region companies as well as industry, and school education together with large audiences.
“In Finland, cooperation between science teacher education in STEM education and the multifaceted sustainability activities of ChemistryLab Gadolin, especially raise interest,” tells postdoctoral researcher Outi Haatainen, who functions as project manager for the project on the behalf of Finland.