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Sustainable Climate Change Education: The Science Express Mobile Exhibition in India

4979 words (20 pages) Essay in Environmental Studies

08/02/20 Environmental Studies Reference this

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  1. Rationale

Sustainability requires that we not only focus on the survival of the current generation but also on the prosperity of future generations (Sleurs, 2008). To be able to do this, it is important that the education offered to the students stress the importance of sustainability and teaches them to envision the future. Also, acquiring personal behavior that will encourage sustainability and critically analyze the current systems and see if they are sustainable as they move into the future, encourage teamwork in finding solutions, and empowers them to take part in the decision making (Chang & Pascua, 2017). Therefore, education for sustainability will be essential in encouraging sustainable development as it will open the students into the idea of building a sustainable future in different sectors including the environment, social, economic and governance (Tilbury, 2011).

Finding ways to deal with climate change should be included in the ways of ensuring sustainable development. It is important that much effort is put in place to ensure that the human activities that lead to climate change are done away with, reduced or done in a way that we balance their benefits and their effects to the environment (Mochizuki and Audrey, 2015). As mentioned, humans contribute a lot to climate change, and there is no way that the war on climate change can be waged without engaging the humans. Most of the activities carried out by humans that lead to climate change are mostly done as economic activities meant to provide livelihood to those involved. However, the activities have drastic effects on the environment. For example activities like logging and mining for instance lead to destruction of trees which are very important in the absorption of carbon gases that contribute to global warming. Mining also leave a lot of open spaces, with soil which has been contaminate by the chemicals that are used in the process which is not able to support any sought of vegetation. Other human activities like the production of smoke, and carbon gases from vehicles and factories also contribute to global warming.

To deal with global warming caused by the human activities, a lot of investment and emphasis should be put in ensuring the students are given education that will give them knowledge. This knowledge will encourage a different set of thinking, which will foster economic prosperity for the current generations. It will also ensure that they become responsible enough to come up with systems and climate management trends which will ensure that the future generations survive and even prosper (Chang & Pascua, 2017). The sustainability of the climate change will require that teachers and schools define systems which will encourage the conservation of the environment. Such systems will also help in minimizing the factors that contribute to global warming, by offering sustainable ways of economic prosperity which do not interfere with the prosperity of the future generations (García, Junyent & Fonolleda, 2017). This paper will explore a sample case study of how climate change education is being carried out to enhance sustainability.

  1. The Case Study: Spreading climate change literacy on wheels: a science express- climate action special.

This is a government program that features a mobile science exhibition, that moves all over India educating people about the effects of climate change, and how they can step in to help in mitigation. The science expressed climate change action special, the exhibition was led by the government of India and the Department of Science and Technology (DST), and the Vikram A. Sarabhai Community Science Center (VASCSC) was responsible for management. The 16 coach has travelled across India for approximately 1.5 million kilometers since 2007 and visited over 483 locations and reaching over 16.2 million people among them 589,000 students and 30,000 teachers (Sharma, n.d.).

This case study

  • Is a partnership between the public and private sectors, and this has enabled it to have a broader reach and impact more people.
  • Focuses on adaptive management, which has allowed the program, to modify exhibitions to address more pressing environmental issues.
  • The participatory nature of it, has led to increased understanding of scientific facts about the impacts of climate change and how individuals can tackle climate change and their willingness to act on climate change.

This particular case is made necessary by the fact that climate change is a very complicated and global issue with a lot of ramification. As India grows its economy and improves the living standards of its citizens, it has to find ways of reducing the impacts of climate change to ensure sustainable growth. The Indian government is determined in making sure that action is taken to help mitigate these impacts and reducing dependence on carbon powered growth. To achieve this, the government knows how important education and awareness will be important in the war against climate change. This case study focuses on educating people about the impacts of climate change and how they can take part in the fight against it by creating awareness (Sharma, n.d.).

Sustainability as a future-oriented concept has much relevance regarding climate change. This is because as time goes on, there is a general concern and a realization that climate change is growing to be a significant area of concern (Mochizuki and Audrey, 2015). Finding ways to maintain sustainability as far as climate change is concerned, there is a very important and valid case for this essay.  There are several reasons for this assertion top being the dangerous effects of climate change which if left unchecked, will soon affect the economy of the world and even how the world socially associates. By creating awareness and educating people about the impacts of climate change and letting those involved know how they can do something to help in the war against climate change; this case study offers a chance of ensuring the survival and prosperity of the future generations.

Creating awareness and educating people on how to handle the impacts of climate change and what they can do to help deal with climate change is very important in combating climate change. Climate change is one of the issues that are very peculiar in EFS (United Nations Economic Commission for Europe, 2012). Taking climate change education to people enhances their understanding of climate change.  The exhibitions give them a practical idea of how to tackle climate change and its impacts.  Therefore, this case study ensures a deepened understanding of climate change. Through this understanding, it ensures that those who are reached have enough knowledge to tackle climate change and ensure that the future generations are able to prosper (United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization, 2017). The case study which was pushed by the desire to have sustainable growth in India fits so much in the EFS standards, as it seeks to do away with development that is carbon intensive, and focus on development that also cares about the future of the environment and the nature of the world (Goel, 2018).

  1. Research and literature review

Henderson, Long, Berger, Russell and Drewes (2017) indicated that education is the key in ensuring humans mitigate and adapt to climate change, and due to this, there is need to encourage educational research on the climate change. This is made necessary by the fact that currently, little is being done to help address the climate change problem either now and even as we move into the future. The current education systems do not pay much attention to this sensitive issue.

Education for sustainability especially concerning climate change requires that the learners are given knowledge that will help people have a different understanding of what climate change is, and this is what this case study all about. Thus, this case study focuses on teaching people what the effects of climate change are and what they can do to help in its mitigation.

3.1 The Supreme Court ruling on compulsory environmental education in schools

In 1991, the government through the Supreme Court ruling, made it compulsory for the education system to make it compulsory for the learners to be given the education that will make them aware of the environment and its related problems like pollution. Due to this ruling, it was a must that all areas within the Indian jurisdiction comply with the idea of providing environmental education. To enable easy implementation, the National Council for Education Research and Training (NCERT) mandated with the formulation of a syllabus sought to include environmental education in the education system. They decided to infuse environmental education into the existing subject areas such as social studies, mathematics and the languages among other subjects instead of coming up with an entirely new subject.  NCERT further focused on making several improvements on the way environment studies were made, with focus on ICT, material development, teacher preparation, evaluation systems among others. This means that there were some efforts put in place to help the learners aware of the environment and to help protect it (Padma, 2018). 

Science express was designed with the desire to involve young learners in the matters of science and technology through a mobile exhibition which utilized a 16-coach train. Although the exhibition meant for the entire society, its main focus is the students and teachers and has so far touched almost 600,000 students and 30,000 teachers (Sharma, n.d.). The problem of climate change is complex in India because even as it strives to mitigate the impacts of climate change, there is a challenge posed by the national situation. As a rapidly developing country, it mostly utilizes carbon-emitting sources of energy to drive that economy thus dealing with climate change will require that the country cuts on the carbon-emitting activities which might slow down its growth. This means that there is a possible conflict that will emanate especially if attempts are made to interfere with activities that are sources of livelihood. However, it should be noted that India as a country wants to work towards ways of ensuring that they have a development plan that would is less carbon intensive and adopting lifestyles that will encourage adopting to the effects of climate change. This is being done not in isolation, but also with collaborations with other nations.

o go around this, creating awareness will be very important in influencing actions that can be taken by individual people concerning the mitigation of climate change. This is because education and awareness are the most important drivers in getting people to take action on climate change. By making people aware of the impacts of climate change, there is an improved probability that the individual might decide to change their lifestyle and discard activities that pose a risk to the environment. This will in turn do away with activities that contribute to climate change and embrace those activities that might help them mitigate these impacts. This awareness will also help them concentrate on those activities that can help them adapt to the effects of climate change. The awareness inspires people to suggest ideas that can be implemented as part of the solution in reference to the problems of climate change. This is where the science express comes in. Through its trained team and exhibitions, the science express mobile train seeks to create awareness of the effects of climate change. They do this by showing people strategies they can use to adapt to the impacts of climate change, and the options can explore as they seek to fight climate change (Science Express Climate Action Special, n.d.).

3.2 Importance of awareness in the fight against climate change

This case study focuses in demystifying climate change, by giving scientific facts about the impacts of climate change and underlines the actions that individuals can take to help tackle climate change and their willingness to do so (Sharma, n.d.). This means that the program plays on the creation of awareness to help the people take part in the mitigation of climate change thus ensuring sustainable development. This kind of awareness goes a long way in putting sustainability in terms of climate change at the center, thus ensuring that the knowledge imparted can be applied in the practical sense as it seeks to compel the learners to act rather than just gathering it for keeps. This is done by organizing activities in every station that the train stops.  This involves engaging the visitors in climate change activities that gauge their knowledge on the subjects and which appeal to their interest in coming up with solutions. Some of the activities include availing places where the learners can perform experiments that will enhance their understanding of climate change, and also avail training facilities for the training of teachers. The exhibitions also include the showcasing of selected innovations which can be important in enhancing climate change education and those that illustrate technological ideas that can help in developing solutions to climate change.

To ensure that the kind of education given to students is deep and sustainable in terms of gaining a better understanding of climate change and encouraging critical thinking that will encourage prosperity in the future. It is important that teachers are well equipped with adequate knowledge to enable them to impart the appropriate knowledge to the students. According to Henderson et al. (2017), acknowledges that several teachers are not well prepared in tackling the content that relates to climate change. The science express exhibition has managed to reach over 30,000 teachers from different 6,000 schools and colleges (Sharma, n.d.). The kind of knowledge gathered by the teachers during these exhibitions, therefore provide them with the valuable background for imparting climate change education to the students. This will ensure that the teachers are always prepared to impart knowledge on the climate issue. Because the exhibition is only at a particular place for a short period of time, the training offered will not of much benefit, if the learner would not be guided and reminded of the important concepts associated to climate change. By training the teachers, science express makes sure that the learners have a constant guide in matters of climate change, thus compounding what has been taught and making the climate education sustainable (Science Express Climate Action Special, n.d.).

The kind education that is capable of ensuring deepened understanding of climate change, and sustainability in terms of climate change mitigation, the education system must strive to change and take the different approach from what is currently available in the system. The system should be effective and help the students acquire skills that would enable them to live and prosper in the future (García, Junyent & Fonolleda, 2017). These changes are made necessary because the projection of the effects of climate changes for instance in the next century will be more serious than they are now. The effects will reduce the water available to people even as the population would have grown immensely. This will be occasioned by the increased droughts as the temperatures will continue to rise. This means we will have more people sharing the limited water resources. The high temperatures will also lead to an extinction of approximately 25% of the species, more so the amphibians. The wildfires made worse by the increased temperatures will also be more rampant.  The food production will also be hampered by the high temperatures, meaning that the world will struggle to feed its burgeoning population. The coast regions will experience, a lot of damage due to flood and storms; this will affect the livelihood and make the areas inhabitable. As the food production will go down and disasters rise, there will be health risks involved, as cases of malnutrition, infectious diseases, respiratory diseases and even diarrhea will become rampant (Oskamp, 2002).

Thus, it is important that the learners are equipped with this kind of knowledge so that if they find themselves in that future they should be able to survive these effects, or better still they get skills which will help prevent the realization of that bleak future. Adapting to climate change is an instrumental part of the science express program. With the effects of climate change getting severe, the program realizes that there is a necessity of ensuring that the learners are equipped with strategies of surviving such conditions. Through its exhibitions and knowledge offered, people have a thorough understanding of the impacts of climate change and adjust accordingly.

This case study plays a role in ensuring that the learners are made aware of these impacts. Through the Vikram A. Sarabhai Community Science Centre (VASCSC) which travels by the train and includes qualified and well-trained science communicators, the learners are able to get firsthand information on climate change (Science Express Climate Action Special, n.d.). This is mostly because this team takes part in explaining and interpreting the exhibition, answering questions and conducting activities all aimed at making climate change education sustainable. Activities like celebrating important days related to science and mathematics like the World Ozone Day and World Environment Day further help in the generation of awareness among the learners. By coming up with activities puzzles, and games on the issues of the environment and climate change, the program manages to instill the sense of climate change to young children, some as young as 11 years (Sharma, n.d.).

3.3 Knowledge for creating impact

The climate change education through the science express focuses on individual behaviors and how these behaviors contribute to climate change as well as ways of consolidating efforts to ensure collective success. This is done by focusing on reducing the impact of climate change, through encouraging changing the behaviors of people by for instance giving better options that can be applied in their day to day life. These options include driving less to reduce the carbon emission; the case study also has its tentacles in aiding collective engagements by bringing to the learners what the rest of the world is doing in combating climate change. They also help to build a group of learners that will take up the fight against climate change and see how threatening it is to their future.  The science express focuses on the international negotiations for climate change including the Kyoto protocol and other efforts in place to do so. This helps the learners to know what they are all about and also get to know that the fight against climate is global and thus they should be encouraged to play a part in that fight (Sharma, n.d.).  This will mean that as efforts are made at encouraging the learners to focus on driving less which in reality may not be that effective because people obviously want to move. The focus should also be laid on ensuring that the learners understand that it is possible to do away with using modes of transport that run on sources of energy that have the immense effect on climate change. Instead, they can concentrate on getting modes of transport that run on clean energy that won’t lead to carbon emission such as the use of electric vehicles. Though expensive, it can be encouraged through government grants and subsidies to the clean energy sector. This is mostly considered under the international negotiations which seek to come up with agreements that can be implemented internationally by several countries to consolidate efforts to be assured of better results (Science Express Climate Action Special, n.d.). The educations system should also focus on equipping the learners with the skills and knowledge that they will need to survive in the future. This will greatly be different from the current education system, as the consequences of climate change are bound to severe in the future than they are now. The science express program is very constant in the offering of science as a solution to the several problems that bedevil the human world. This is done by highlighting the current discoveries and innovations which the visitors of the exhibition can learn about through the various exhibits and the audio and video presentations. By knowing these solutions, the learners can seek their application in the future to help tackle the problem of climate change as they move into the future and because the problems will be more severe.

All in all, this case study is anchored on very strong concepts of sustainability. On education for sustainability, the science express seeks to increase the amount of knowledge that the learners will have. This is ensured by seeking them out where they are and bequeathing them with this important knowledge. This knowledge would be necessary for the fight against climate change and coming up with strategies of surviving the impacts of climate change and ways of mitigating these impacts (Cebrián & Junyent, 2015). The mobile nature of the exhibition makes sure that the program reaches more people than it would have done if it was in one location. The higher the number of people reached, the more impactful becomes, as climate change can only become effective, if the efforts are compounded and so many people pull into the fight of its impacts. The program further train teachers on climate change. This ensures that the students will always have constant guidance on matters of climate change and who will always remind them if they have learned making the process sustainable. The education is also sustainable in terms of ensuring prosperity for the future generations (Stibbe, 2009). The education encourages them to come up with ways of maintaining and sustaining the environment, and ways of adapting to it so as to make sure that the human race continues to survive in the future. This makes the efforts of science express as a program very important in making sure that climate change education is sustainable in India (Wiek, Withycombe & Redman, 2011).

4.0 Implications

Making the study of climate change sustainable is very important as far as making sure that the learners are equipped with necessary skills that they will need, this not only to survive in the future world, but also help spearhead to fight against with climate change (Mochizuki and Audrey, 2015). This case study through an evaluation study carried in 20 schools and five colleges; indeed, there was an increased understanding of facts concerning the impacts of climate change. The evaluation sought to find out if the learners who had visited the climate change exhibition had an increased awareness of climate change. Awareness of the solutions that could be applied to help mitigate it had also increased. It was also established that there was an increased willingness among the learners to take personal initiatives in the fight against climate change. This point out the positive impact this exhibition had on the students. It also illustrates the effects of the exhibition on climate change education. Learners who attended these exhibitions were more aware of these facts compared to the learners who did not take part in the exhibition.

The case study through its programs that employed different coaches to handle different areas ensured that the learners benefited immensely from the experts handling different areas. The learners were able to benefit from more knowledge in the areas of getting a clear picture of what climate change is, what causes it, and its relation to human activities like mining and other activities that will contribute to emission of carbon gases. The learners also got insight on the impacts of climate change including the rising temperatures, the monsoon variations, the rising sea level and other effects in the sectors of agriculture, forestry and human health among others. They were also inducted on the strategies they could use to adapt to the changing climate in their daily lives and the strategies they could apply in the mitigation to help reduce the impacts (Sharma, n.d.).

This includes suggesting several remedies aimed at cutting the carbon emissions including the individual efforts and initiatives, to initiatives that will require lobbying so that they can be implemented at a large scale and affect several sectors (Han, 2015). The learners are therefore equipped through this exhibition to take part in those efforts. This is done by encouraging them to engage in activities like planting trees so as to increase the forest cover and reduce the usage of fossil fuels. This can be done by for instance cutting on driving cars that use oil products or even buying electric cars. They are also made aware of international treaties and negotiations on climate change including the Kyoto Protocol.

The biggest challenge of this case study is its inability to reach all the people. In a country of hundreds of millions, only 2.3 million people had managed to attend these science exhibitions. This points out at its low capacity to create massive impact especially if only a few people are aware of climate change, its effects and what they are supposed to do to help mitigate it.

The possibilities of coming up with sustainable climate change education include equipping the learners with relevant knowledge and skills that will help them survive in the future. That information will increase their understanding of climate change and its impacts and expanding their influence in making a difference. This is only possible if there are numerous intentional initiatives to push facts on climate change to the people by outlining its effects, and telling people what they can do about it like this science exhibitions are doing.

5.0 References

  • Cebrián, G., & Junyent, M. (2015). Competencies in education for sustainable development: Exploring the student teachers’ views. Sustainability7(3), 2768-2786.
  • Chang, C. H., & Pascua, L. (2017). The state of climate change education–reflections from a selection of studies around the world. International Research in Geographical and Environmental Education. Volume 26, 2017 – Issue 3: Climate Change EducationPages 177-179
  • Garcia, M. R., Junyent, M., & Fonolleda, M. (2017). How to assess professional competencies in education for sustainability?: An approach from a perspective of complexity. International Journal of Sustainability in Higher Education, 18(5), 772-797. doi: 10.1108/IJSHE-03-2016-0055
  • Sharma, P. (n.d.) Spreading Climate Change Literacy on Wheels: Science Express – Climate Action Special. Retrieved from https://naaee.org/eepro/groups/global-ee/case-study/spreading-climate-change-literacy-wheels  
  • Goel, M. (2018). The need to invest more on climate change education. Retrieved from https://www.livemint.com/Opinion/0FVi6JI6LjMwzM9aJ5IJON/The-need-to-invest-more-on-climate-change-education.html  
  • Henderson, J., Long, D., Berger, P., Russell, C., & Drewes, A. (2017). Expanding the foundation: Climate change and opportunities for educational research. Educational Studies: Journal of the American Educational Studies Association, 53(4), 412-425. doi: 10.1080/00131946.2017.133
  • Mochizuki, Y., & Bryan, A. (2015). Climate change education in the context of education for sustainable development: Rationale and principles. Journal of Education for Sustainable Development, 9(1), 4-26. doi: 10.1177/0973408215569109
  • Oskamp, S. (2002). Environmentally responsible behavior: Teaching and promoting it effectively. Analyses of Social Issues and Public Policy2(1), 173-182.
  • Padma, T. (2018). India & climate change: Facts and figures. Retrieved from https://www.scidev.net/global/climate-change/feature/india-climate-change-facts-and-figures.html
  • Han, Q. (2015). Education for sustainable development and climate change education in china: A status report. Journal of Education for Sustainable Development, 9(1), 62-77. doi: 10.1177/09734082155691
  • Rachel, T. & Yoko, M. (2015). Climate Change Education for Sustainability in Brazil: A Status Report Journal of Education for Sustainable Development Vol 9, Issue 1, pp. 44 – 61 https://doi.org/10.1177/0973408215569113
  • Science Express Climate Action Special. (n.d.) About Science Experience. Retrieved from: http://www.sciencexpress.in/about-science-express.html
  • Sleurs, W. (2008). Competencies for ESD (Education for Sustainable Development) teachers: A framework to integrate ESD in the curriculum of teacher training institutes – Comenius 2.1 project 118277-CP-1-2004-BE-Comenius-C2.1. Retrieved from: http://www.unece.org/fileadmin/DAM/env/esd/inf.meeting.docs/EGonInd/8mtg/CSCT%20Handbook_Extract.pdf
  • Stibbe, A. E. (2009). The handbook of sustainability literacy: Skills for a changing world. Green Books.
  • Tilbury, D. (2011). Education for sustainable development: An expert review of processes and learning. Paris, France: UNESCO. Retrieved from: http://unesdoc. unesco. org/images/0019/001914/191442e. pdf.
  • UNECE. (2012). Learning for the future: Competences in Education for Sustainable Development. Geneva: UNECE. Retrieved from: http://www.unece.org/fileadmin/DAM/env/esd/ESD_Publications/Competences_Publication.pdf
  • UNESCO (2017). Education for Sustainable Development Goals: Learning Objectives. Paris: UNESCO. Retrieved from: http://unesdoc.unesco.org/images/0024/002474/247444e.pdf
  • Wiek, A., Withycombe, L., & Redman, C. L. (2011). Key competencies in sustainability: a reference framework for academic program development. Sustainability science6(2), 203-218.
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