The poles are melting, the oceans are packed with plastic, natural disasters increase, the amazon rainforest deforestation causes the release of carbon dioxide, rhinoceros, tiger and gorilla are about to become extinct – the list continues… Economy prevails, ecology suffers. The conflict between ecological and economical needs and the problems that come along seem to be far away from us as an individual, far away from where we live, far away from our country and far away from Europe, but: The conflict is real and right at our doorstep: e.g. Bialowieza forest and National Park – the last primeval forest and world heritage – is endangered by wood industry; monoculture farming (e.g. corn to produce biogas) drive away animal and faunal species; economic important factors like tourism and traffic pollute especially urban areas.
Does that mean we have to neglect economy? Of course not. Since we rely on both, also the Europe 2020 Strategy shows that economy and ecology are major priorities: The reduction of greenhouse emission, the increase of renewable energy are exemplary goals here and at the same time “the development of a strong and sustainable industrial base” is demanded.
So, where do we set the standards and where do we compromise to find a balance? This is what our project wants to focus on. All 6 participating schools from Germany, the Netherlands, Denmark, Poland, Romania and Spain are affected by the topic and can relate to the issue from different perspectives. The participating schools are similar when it comes to students (age and social background) and educational goals and they are rather diverse when it comes to the location within Europe: Madrid and Copenhagen (near Ballerup) are capital cities, Iasi is the second biggest city in Romania whereas Hermannsburg, Hájnowka and Ede are set in a rather rural area.
Together we want to educate our participants to become responsible and active European citizens. We want them to broaden their expertise in the respective field by following this structure at the different teaching and learning activities: C1. Knowledge: Understanding economy and ecology (Netherlands) C2. Awareness: The conflict between both is real and becomes obvious (Denmark) C3. Finding a balance: Ideas and solutions for the conflict (Spain) C4. Individual actions: What are possible individual contributions to creating and maintaining the balance and how can I put them into action? (Poland) C5. Spreading the word: Discussing hopes and visions with Politicians in a Conference (Germany)
To achieve all this, a variety of methods will be used: cooperative learning strategies, presentations, exhibitions, team-activities, visits to stake holders in the area, interviews, debating, creative approaches (writing, drawing, photos), simulations and experiments and much more.
Apart from a project homepage, newspaper articles, project videos etc. each activity will be perfected by results to be used at school/in class and distributed in the area and at European events: - poster with joint benefits of economy and ecology - interviews, questionnaires - a recipe-book including guidelines for economical and ecological shopping - art book entitled “Impressions of a future economically and ecologically balanced big city” - photo journal “My week contributing to a balance” - questionnaire: Am I Responsible and what am I willing to do?” - resolution including ideas - guideline team-building activities - and much more
Starting with C2, the teaching and learning activities will be accompanied by a long term activity/assignment in which every school will try to reduce the use of plastic at school as much as possible. The students will document and share their ideas, chances, actions and their success between the meetings and at the meetings. In the end, a guideline on how to reduce the use of plastic at school will be established and send to other schools.
The topic will be an issue for everyone in the following years and by using the results at school during and after the project, the idea of the project will remain omnipresent and remind students and participants of its importance. With students being part of such a project it will motivate others to actively contribute to the idea of a society which considers the importance of ecology and economy at the same time. Besides improving the participants communication skills, presentations skills, and multimedia skills, we want to form responsible citizens with acceptance for each other; citizens who are willing to actively contribute to a balance between ecology and economy and the goals of the European Union. Working together is not only of major importance, it is necessary and justifies a project like this