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Ecological economic perspectives on sustainability in VET schools

Funder: European CommissionProject code: 2021-1-DE02-KA220-VET-000025374
Funded under: ERASMUS+ | Partnerships for cooperation and exchanges of practices | Cooperation partnerships in vocational education and training Funder Contribution: 273,958 EUR
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Ecological economic perspectives on sustainability in VET schools

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<< Background >>Sustainability is an omnipresent topic for teachers and further training in this subject area is highly demanded. In schools, education for sustainable development is often thought of at the individual level and in this context addresses individual consumption, individual mobility and nutrition. While this is an important level of consideration, a holistic view of sustainable education must also include the system level, i.e. the level of economic policy and regulatory structures. This first step, from the micro to the macro level, is what the EcoGreen project wants to put into perspective. However, it will go one step further and expand the consideration of sustainable economic policy to include the perspective of alternative forms of economy and prosperity. The logic of growth-oriented capitalism reaches its limits when further growth is linked to more and more resource consumption. Therefore, there are already considerations to define prosperity according to other maxims than growth and profit (de-growth, post-growth economy). We would like to enable vocational school teachers, and secondarily also vocational school students, to think in alternatives through further training in the form of critical socio-economic education; to understand economic systems as political decisions and to be able to influence them through action. This need is currently not sufficiently considered at educational institutions. Especially at vocational schools, where students are already closely linked to companies, such critical socio-economic education is indispensable. However, this requires well-trained teachers who have internalised and understood the interaction of politics and economy in the field of sustainability so well that they can educate learners in this field in the future. The issue of sustainability is a classic, cross-border collective goods problem, so it is imperative that the issue be addressed internationally, at least at the European level. In the countries involved and in Europe as a whole, there is a lack of awareness (in the education system) of the structural level of sustainability, especially in relation to alternative economic concepts. A neoliberal perspective dominates, which is also pursued by politics and shifts responsibilities primarily to the private and individual level. The system based on growth appears to be basically without alternative.<< Objectives >>In the EcoGreen project, we want to focus on the economic policy level and thinking in alternatives in the context of education for sustainable development and make it accessible to teachers. For this purpose, principles of critical socio-economic education are to be combined with alternative concepts to growth-driven capitalism. This combination puts a different emphasis on education for sustainable development than is usually found in the school sector. We want to train teachers, and secondarily also students, in the field of economic policy, sustainability and alternative economic orders and ideas of prosperity, and thus enable both teachers and students to act as critically-active subjects in the context of sustainable economic policy. In the course of this, they will be enabled to think not only on the individual level but also on the socio-political level and to assess sustainability policy in all its complexity, but also its formability, and to be able to influence it through action. In order to give them another perspective, they should not only think within the logic of the current capitalist economic order, but also find space for alternative concepts (e.g. post-growth economy or de-growth). Another goal of the project is the transnational dissemination of the project idea. Educational concepts can generally only have a pan-European impact if they are conceived internationally and can be developed transnationally. In this way, it can be ensured that the materials are usable and can be used throughout Europe. The German perspective can benefit just as much from a Finnish or Polish perspective as vice versa, something in the perspective of using specific alternative energies. Therefore, the project is being applied for within the framework of Erasmus+.<< Implementation >>Within the framework of the project, we carry out numerous activities. First of all, teachers are actively involved in the project at various stages in order to evaluate our results, which increases the quality of the didactically demanding materials even more. At the same time, this step also serves to disseminate the project. In addition, a three-day learning-teaching-training activity is carried out, in which teachers and members of other educational institutions receive further training on the EcoGreen project topic. In addition, the project materials are tested with at least 300 students, evaluated and improved again. All activities thus contribute not only to dissemination, but also to the constant revision and improvement of the project results.The interactive platform that forms result 4 fits into this logic. There, teachers can upload their teaching results, attend events, network or exchange - moderated and closely monitored by the project team. Regular meetings take place at management level within the project consortium, supplemented by flexible online calls. This ensures an ideal working atmosphere. In addition, a dissemination plan is developed that defines how the project will be widely promoted. These measures are complemented by special multiplier events that directly address the target groups (teachers at vocational schools) and stakeholders (authorities, ministries, etc.).<< Results >>All results are closely related to each other and were developed by educational experts from theory and practice. Result 1 forms the didactically prepared factual basis for further training and lesson preparation for teachers. It is complemented by Result 2, which provides concrete teaching materials to meet the teachers' need for practical materials that can be used. The holistic complement to these materials is the workshop and self-learning opportunity for teachers in Outcome 3, within which teachers are trained in critical socio-economic education. Outcome 4 is to be understood as a deepening of the in-service training, within which the teachers gain the opportunity to exchange ideas, to carry on the project idea and to promote the sustainability of the project.PR1 Podcasts/Handbook for Teachers: Sustainability at the Economic Policy Level In the handbook, the basic features of capitalism and its tension with sustainability are presented, problems of European sustainable economic policy are discussed in a problem-oriented way, and alternative concepts to growth-driven capitalism that are currently under discussion are discussed. The podcasts translate the factual analysis into an accessible form for practical use. They act as a bridge between the factual analysis of the teachers' handbook and the teaching materials and can serve either as preparation for the teacher or for use in the classroom. PR2 Conception of practice materials and accompanying handbookThe practice materials are designed from the perspective of critical political education.The following preliminary thematic units are derived from feedback from the field and from the structure of the project:a) The capitalist economic order in the field of tension with sustainability b) Sustainability - not only I am responsible (influence of industry and business on climate policy)c) Strategies of business and industry in the context of sustainability (green washing, lobbying)d) Growth - is there another way to prosperity?e) Criticism and participation: How could the system be changed?PR3 Concept for teacher training (blended learning) with self-learning materialsIn general, there is still a great need for Education for Sustainable Development in teacher training. The in-service training should be developed especially for teachers of social sciences/politics and economics and should train teachers to initiate thought processes in learners with regard to alternative concepts of prosperity and future-oriented economic concepts. The further training consists of a total of three components: a presence part in workshop mode (2 days), an online course with self-learning materials with a final test (2 days). The product of this output is the conception of a didactically sophisticated structured CET for teachers at vocational schools, which takes into account the curricular requirements and the practical orientation. The overarching goal is to train teachers to enable students to optimally develop orientation competence in the area of sustainable economic policy. PR4 Platform for exchange and further education The platform should guarantee the positive external impact of the project and be designed interactively. The international platform will further strengthen the European perspective of the project and enhance the sustainability of the project results. Beyond that, however, the innovative platform functions as a constant product for visualising the project results and disseminating them. Products can be uploaded, partnerships established and peer consultations conducted there.

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