Participating the climate change in school: an Italian case study

- Indicates paper has been withdrawn from meeting
- Indicates an Award Winner
Monday, 18 January 2010: 5:15 PM
B214 (GWCC)
Valentina Grasso, Italian National Research Council, Institute of Biometeorology, Florence, Italy; and F. Manzoli, F. Conti, F. Zabini, and T. Ercoli

Presentation PDF (365.6 kB)

The challenge of global climate change need a large effort for providing the public with the best information possible, establishing and sustaining a genuine sharing of understanding between science and society. Within this frame, a project involving teachers, families and stakeholders was realized –starting January 2009 ending April 2011- with the support of the European Commission: LIFE R.A.C.E.S. – Raising Awareness on Climate Change and Energy Savings. Main objective of RACES is to set up an awareness raising campaign on climate change issues, providing citizens with an accurate information context, linking information and educational aspects with the experimentation of eco-friendly and energy saving consuming patterns. In order to develop an effective information and education action, firm belief is the need to apply a bottom-up approach, starting from the ideas, opinions and attitudes expressed from the targeted publics: before planning and implementing the communication actions, a qualitative research was realized in the five Italian cities involved in the project (from the very North to the South), with families representatives, teachers and stakeholders. In addition to this phase, a quantitative survey, based on the qualitative findings, was conducted on a sample of 130 teachers with the aim of measure the meanings they ascribe to the climate change, their interest in work on this theme in their classes and which are the educational tools more adequate to work with. In this presentation we will discuss the research results and the activities advancements for what it concerns the action in school. As far as the qualitative research is concerned, the method used was that of the focus group discussion. Fifteen focus groups (three per the five cities with the core targets) concentrated on the perception of the climate change, the main local issues on the problem, the best communication activities and contents hold as effective to involve the citizenship and the schools in particular. Results show a sound consistency with the major qualitative and quantitative researches on the field in the Anglo-Saxon and European context: participants think that the climate change exists and is due to the human modernity (conveyed by concepts as “social evolution”, “irresponsible development”, “economical model”) and only secondly to natural causes. Its effects will take to a global warming, from the growing of the natural disaster to the relapses to the human health. People tend to mix the idea of whether and climate, the first action they are willing to enterprise in favor of the mitigation is recycling, followed by a reduction of the energy consumption. After all, however, the use of the car is the less practicable measure. A great emphasis is posed on the extreme alarmism spread by the Italian media. In terms of education and communication, starting from the local dimensions emerges as the best strategy to motivate people. Concretely, in order to realize activities on the climate change in the school, teachers support the philosophy of practice: much attention is posed to inquiry based activities, either for the action already realized and the proposals they advance. To involve teachers and students following the research outcomes, RACES developed on its website (www.liferaces.eu) several tools and materials to help teachers working with students on climate change and sustainability. Inside the Races web site the section “At school” was realised in order to organise an homogeneous digital environment where teachers could satisfy the information needs highlighted in the research: easy downloading of digital information materials (documents; data; videos; scientific references; web resources); collaboration opportunity with local stakeholders and researchers (participation in the project communication campaign); availability of exercises and experiments based on Inquiry Based Science Education approach; concrete activities to engage students in behavioural change (carbon budget and monitoring of family's energy consumptions). A Web 2.0 application based on Google Earth (http://www.liferaces.eu/node/169) was developed as a way to: use geographic environment to understand climate change dynamics; integrate official scientific information with user-generated contents like “local observations” realized by teachers/students; disseminate school's activities using geographic environment; improve contents/data sharing to produce “volunteered geographic information” (Goodchild 2007) as a way to build responsibility and take action at local level. The project of the on line community and social network (http://community.liferaces.eu/) represents another Web 2.0 tool conceived to enhance communication amongst teachers and the other participants. Finally, schools will also be involved actively within the communication campaign in their cities as to strengthen project outcomes and promote a widespread personal commitment to protect local environment.

Supplementary URL: http://www.liferaces.eu