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Scotland's United Nations Recognised Regional Centre of Expertise on Education for Sustainable Development

Blog: How Open Education materials can enhance the practice of learning for sustainability practitioners

Ronald MacIntyre lives and works in the West Highlands with his family. He has a long term research education and social justice background and balances working for the Open University with voluntary work in the community and running a small croft. In 2016 Ronald developed the Open Education Practices task group with other interested members of the Learning for Sustainability Scotland network and is the current group convener. Here he talks about how the task group developed and what is in store for the task group’s first event, which takes place next month.

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Open Education Practice Scotland and Learning for Sustainability Scotland are co-hosting a workshop early next month which will explore the role of free open online learning material in supporting the work of Learning for Sustainability (lfs) practitioners in Scotland. The idea of the workshop arose after a meeting held in 2016 which brought together a broad range of lfs practitioners to discuss the use of open educational materials and how their practice could be enhanced by accessing and using them.

At the meeting we were all struck by the overlaps in our approaches to educational practice. On the surface there is a sense that questions of sustainability and open education are questions about practice itself, and about how that practice is changing. Our sense of educational practice as something social and situated, and then a broader sense of values, a commitment to equity and social inclusion informed our approaches at an even deeper level.

It is always pleasing to spend an afternoon with people who share similar interests and ideas about educational practice, but in the end one is left wondering – So What?

In this case ‘So What?‘ resulted in the development of a Learning for Sustainability Scotland Task Group – where members interested in open educational practices (OEP) can explore the topic further. For full information on the group and the workshop itself click here.

At the workshop next month we will – very briefly – share some experiences of working with free and open materials and our thoughts about those overlaps. However, most of the day will be given over to discussion and exploring the opportunities and challenges around free open online learning materials and to support learning for sustainability.

If you are interested in joining the discussion then we look forward to seeing you on the day, here is a link so you can book your place.


Photo details: [Walk in] Patrick Geddes Steps, Patrick Geddes was an Edinburgh based architect, planner, and early green thinker often cited as the source of the term “Think Global Act Local”.
Image Source, Jones Bob,https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Patrick_Geddes_Steps_-_geograph.org.uk_-_896501.jpg (CC BY-SA 2.0)

Blog: Exploring learning for sustainability and the Sustainable Development Goals in youth work

Emily Beever is the Senior Development Officer (Policy and Research) at YouthLink Scotland, the national agency for youth work in Scotland. Emily co-ordinates YouthLink Scotland’s Members Network. The most recent Members Network took place in December 2016. As a valuable member of the Learning for Sustainability Scotland network, we asked her to update us on the latest YouthLink event which focused on why learning for sustainability is important in youth work; how it can enhance practitioner’s and young people’s experiences and how practitioners are already working towards the Sustainable Development Goals agenda in their every day practice.

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Youth work plays a critical role in all aspects of young people’s learning. Far from being a complementary add-on to formal learning, in reality youth work is crucial for supporting many young people in their learning, health and wellbeing, and with future prospects. Youth work contributes to positive outcomes for young people in many areas including attainment, mental health, employability, youth justice, and child poverty.

YouthLink’s quarterly Members Networks events are designed for youth practitioners to share best practice, network and learning more about specific topics, with the latest one taking place in December. The theme was dedicated to exploring Learning for Sustainability. Using the  Sustainable Development Goals as a framework to open discussions around LfS, we hoped to show youth work practitioners that they do not need to add new elements to their practice or embark on different projects to contribute to this agenda.

The event began with an introduction to Learning for Sustainability with Betsy and Abi from Learning for Sustainability Scotland. Attendees were encouraged to think about all the elements involved in getting a cup of coffee, focusing on the often unseen and unconsidered elements of the environment, human labour and the power structures that support production and trade.

This planted the seed for the rest of the day as well as giving us a useful tool for our own practice.

Next we heard from three organisations focused on outdoor learning: the Field Studies Council, Woodcraft Folk Scotland and TCV Scotland. The speakers provided attendees with useful information about encouraging outdoor learning within their practice. Helen Jones from the Royal Zoological Society Scotland bridged the gap between conservation efforts at home and globally, telling us about their efforts to engage young people in conservation using digital and pop culture trends. She gave us examples of how Edinburgh Zoo have used Pokemon Go!, Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find them, and Minecraft to involve young people in discussions about conservation.

The event ended with a vibrant discussion on youth work and the SDGs facilitated by Robbie Cheyne from Y Care International, a global youth work organisation. Robbie helped attendees to recognise the elements of their practice that were already working towards the 17 SDGs.

The very nature of youth work means that current youth work provision in Scotland is playing a part in working towards achieving many of the 17 SDGs at home and away. You don’t have to look far to see how youth work’s approach to engage young people in learning, in their communities and to eliminate equalities helps to achieve goals 1, 4, 8 and 10. Our members also engage in targeted youth work contributing to goals 2, 3, 5 and 13.

In fact, youth work practitioners at the event were able to identify examples of ongoing youth work practice that contributed to achieving 16 of the 17 goals. Thanks to the mapping exercise completed at the event, we now have a comprehensive picture of youth work’s current contribution to achieving the SDGs. The youth work outcomes clearly demonstrate how experience in youth work facilitates young people to realise the Global Goals.

It is clear that youth workers must be involved in the journey to achieving the Sustainable Development Goals. Not only does youth work itself help to achieve the goals, but youth workers also facilitate young people to be change makers themselves, equipping them with the tools to create change in their communities and further afield. This is the key difference between the Millennium Development Goals and the SDGs.  These goals are no longer for someone else, they are for us. Designed with us. Delivered by us.

As the national agency for youth work in Scotland, we would like to see our members in the statutory and voluntary youth work sectors engaged and included in the wider dialogue of the SDGs and recognition by decision makers and partners that youth work contributes to achieving them. YouthLink Scotland would welcome partnership opportunities with expert agencies as well as funding for professional development so youth work practitioners can continue to lead on achieving the Sustainable Development Goals.

For more detail about the Members Network event, please see here.

If you have an interesting update that you would like to share with the Learning for Sustainability Scotland network, please get in touch with Abi Cornwall here.

 

UNESCO’s Aaron Benavot speaks at LfS Scotland’s AGM

Education for People and Planet

LfS Scotland members were privileged to hear from Aaron Benavot, Director of the new Global Education Monitoring (GEM) Report by UNESCO at our 2016 AGM held on 19 January 2017. He spoke about the potential for education to propel progress towards all the Sustainable Development Goals outlined in the UN’s 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. The report shows that education in every country needs a major transformation to fulfill that potential and meet the current challenges facing humanity and the planet. You can find his presentation here and download a summary of the report Education for People and Planet here.

For a full update on the rest of the AGM, see our website for more information.

 

Announcing the new Steering Group members & AGM update

The Annual General Meeting was held on Thursday 19 January at the University of Edinburgh, Moray House School of Education. This year’s theme was Transforming our World – education and learning that responds to the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals. Over sixty members came to join in the discussion and to explore the future work of Learning for Sustainability Scotland in line with the UN SDGs.

In 2016 two members of the steering group – Judy Paul and Sarah Lee stepped down due to wok commitments and relocation opportunities. Nominations were accepted for new steering group members and participants at the AGM were invited to vote for their preferred choices at the session. You can read all about the nominees here.

We have great pleasure in announcing the two candidates who were voted onto the Steering Group were Lorna Matthews – a primary teacher from the isle of Cumbrae and Kerr McConnell from Keep Scotland Beautiful. We would like to thank all of the nominees for their interest and we welcome Lorna and Kerr onto the steering group.

Official thanks also go to Judy Paul and Sarah Lee for their hard work and commitment to the work of Learning for Sustainability Scotland during their time on the steering group.

At our AGM we like to ensure attendees have the chance to hear and get involved in interesting – and practical – discussions. This year was no exception with talks from Aaron Benavot, Director, UNESCO Global Education Monitoring (G.E.M) who gave valuable insight into the G.E.M reports. We also heard from members who are responding to the SDGs in Scotland through learning. In Schools – Josephine McLaughlin, IDEAS. With Young People and Communities: Emily Beever, Youthlink Scotland; In Tertiary Education , Matthew Lawson, University of Edinburgh; With Government: Ruchir Shah, SCVO Open Government Pioneers initiative

Participants were also able to provide feedback and suggestions on how LfS Scotland – in partnership with members – can drive the links with SDGs forward.  Suggestions ranged from setting up a new task group which links community education groups to the SDGs; setting up regular member forum sessions for networking purposes; developing the SDG task group further and finding better ways to exemplify the ways members are linking their work with the UN Sustainable Development Goals in our communications. All of the suggestions will be discussed in the steering group and notifications will be sent out to update on development.

We always look forward to our Annual General Meeting as they are always thought provoking, inspiring and full of energy for the work that we are all striving to do. This year was another successful event  and we thank each and every one of our presenters and members for helping to make it so.

 

If you weren’t able to come along on the day – or if you’d like a refresher, please click on the links below for more details. And, if you’d like to find out more about the work of LfS Scotland, by participating in one of the collaborative working groups (task groups) or by suggesting something you’d like to get involved in then please do get in touch.

Programme LfSS AGM 19 January 2016

LfS Scotland Report Nov 2015 – Dec 2016

LfSS AGM 2016 Presentation slides

Steering Group nominations

LfSS AGM 2016 Aaron Benavot

Josephine McLaughlin LfSS AGM 2016

Emily Beever LfS Scotland AGM 2016

Matt Lawson LfSS AGM January 2017

UK implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals inquiry response

View the official and complete parliamentary response document here.