As I compose this blog post, a disquieting reality is emerging: record-breaking temperatures are soaring to unprecedented heights, thrusting the world into the clutches of dire repercussions. Touristy sites, once characterized by pleasant temperatures, have now morphed into a relentless battleground against climate crises. The recent heat waves in Southern Europe and Northern Africa as well as the wildfires in Canada and on Hawaii stand as an unequivocal reminder that climate change represents a serious threat needing immediate and collective action.
In light of these alarming circumstances, the significance of sustainability education becomes all the more apparent in raising awareness and equipping future generations with the necessary knowledge and skills to combat climate change’s escalating tolls.
“Going Green – Education for Sustainability” is a blended-learning project designed for English as a Foreign Language (EFL) and Content and Language Integrated Learning (CLIL) in upper-secondary classrooms in both the United States and Germany. Its central mission revolves around cultivating engagement and forging connections between German and U.S. learners, encouraging them to explore environmental challenges and embrace sustainability practices as viable solutions to climate crises. Going Green, currently in its ninth cycle, is financially supported by the U.S. Embassy in Berlin. Notably, since its inception in 2014, the project has attracted over 6,800 participants, including a network comprising approximately 700 dedicated teachers from both countries.
Going Green’s curriculum has been recently enhanced through the integration of three thematically pertinent modules: Youth Participation, Green Energy, and Environmental Justice. These new modules consist of compelling content, intricate research inquiries, and stimulating discussion prompts. While the Youth Participation module looks into engaging young individuals in sustainability initiatives, the Green Energy module explores the landscape of renewable energy sources and brings their potential to light. The module Environmental Justice unveils the intricate nexus between matters of social justice and environmental concerns.
Moreover, the existing modules have undergone revision to incorporate fresh content. Notably, we included four new online interactive games to offer students an array of optional activities that extend beyond traditional learning avenues. In fact, the introduction of gaming within educational contexts has garnered recognition for its pedagogical benefits. Gaming reinforces both students’ engagement and experiential learning. By immersing students in virtual environments, games stimulate active participation and foster problem-solving capabilities.
The newly embedded games are replete with interactive features. For example, the game Sustainability Threads offers players an immersive journey through the lifecycle of materials transformed into clothing. In addition to advancing an understanding of sustainability concepts, it also stimulates analytical thinking as players decipher intricate processes. Similarly, StadtKlimaArchitekt, a product of the Excellence Cluster CliSAP at the University of Hamburg, also extends beyond climate impact awareness. This game – designed to enhance knowledge about the influence of different architectural designs on climate – serves, at the same time, as an arena to sharpen urban planning and strategic thinking skills. Among the array of interactive games, Food Choices for a Healthy Planet stands perhaps as the most captivating fusion of education and decision-making. Within this game, a collection of engaging microblog articles, Your Food Choices Explained touches on diverse topics, ranging from climate and culture to health and healthcare. The series, written by a community of experts, delves into nutritional challenges and argues that informed choices in food consumption can pave the way for the development of sustainable dietary habits and guidelines.
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