Eco Field Schools
Young citizen involvement via sustainability science education and communication
Eco Field Schools is a research and curriculum development project that is a result of a partnership between The Rizoma Foundation and Forum ViA. Building on the momentum of the Fridays for Future movement, we propose a way to empower young people, between the ages of 15 and 25, as a generation of climate activists through a hands-on curriculum studying real world sustainable solutions. Based on a variety of already implemented youth empowerment programs, this initiative offers to develop a curriculum that encourages science of sustainability education, in-context learning with sustainability practitioners, and giving youth a voice in science communication.
We propose two specific types of curricula that foster youth empowerment for sustainability solutions. In each curriculum, students and host institutions will identify and partner with local practitioners. Some examples of practitioners may include: small scale family farms, artisans, craft producers, artists, small business owners, and any other sustainable producers within a local community.
The field experience will be a specified number of required volunteer hours with practitioners. Students will prepare for the field experience with one of two potential foci:
1 Story telling. Students will prepare for field work by developing a series of interview questions, including protocols for understanding the sustainability of practices. Throughout the field work, students will be informally interviewing practitioners, conducting journalistic research, and developing a science communication project (podcast, webinar, blog post, art) to translate findings to a wider audience.
2 Young Citizen Science and science communication. Students will prepare for field work by developing a citizen science protocol for assessing sustainability practices at field site. Throughout the field work, students will be conducting scientific research, and developing a project to present to other students. Students could also potentially be (virtually) paired with an international peer to exchange different perspectives on a similar research project. This gives youth a voice in international science communication.
Embrace sustainable lifestyles
Building on the momentum of many youth climate movements, including Fridays for Future, we seek to develop curricula that can be used at the secondary and post-secondary levels to reach youth in transitional phases in life. We want to accelerate youth understanding of sustainable lifestyles and livelihoods through hands-on field experiences with practitioners.
Building communities of practice
Working from the idea that critical learning must happen in context, we will empower youth to see sustainability “in their backyards,” so to speak. Highlighting the potential of sustainable livelihoods in the local contexts, we allow for a field experience that will help to foster and deepen connections within communities, strengthening them through shared experiences.
Global citizenship communication
Our goal is to develop a curriculum that could be used throughout the world to empower youth as global citizen scientists: critically interrogating global and local sustainability initiatives in-context - connecting the dots between local action and global change. Our long term vision is developing this youth capacity for an entire generation of students, steeped in critical thinking about sustainability, and equipped with experiences alongside actual practitioners and resultant community connections highlighting the importance of science based sustainability solution-communication, we empower youth with the skills for storytelling at this critical juncture in history and their lives.