Thijs Bosker and Paul Behrens receive funding to develop Local Actions - set
Thijs Bosker and Paul Behrens, Professors in Environmental Sciences at Leiden University College in The Hague, have received funding from the Leiden University Fund and the Gratama Foundation to work on developing a set of Local Actions: tangible and practical exercises that students can engage in which deal with environmental issues from a local perspective.
As the news is full of environmental crises: record breaking temperatures, tropical deforestation, forest fires, water shortages and plastic soups, support for these initiatives are important. For many, the problems we face are overwhelming and even disempowering. Surely, individual actions cannot solve climate change, the rain forests or clean-up our oceans? For many there is a sense of defeatism and anxiety, especially among young people. In short, pessimism rules.
From 'Issue' to 'action'
Paul Behrens: ''Indeed, the challenges we face are hard-to-fathom and represent wicked problems. They require collective action at a global scale and across disciplinary boundaries. Yet, at a local level changes are happening. Local cooperation and community norms often are capable of sustainably managing shared resources in the long term. It is vital that society move from ‘issue’ to ‘action’.''
A Sense of Agency and Ownership
Thijs Bosker: ''We want to give young people in our society a sense of agency and ownership of environmental issues and to help them feel empowered in making a difference. Therefore we will develop a set of local actions: ready-made local activities which link to core content in different disciplines, and which are designed to be easily incorporated in existing courses.''
The set will consist of two components:
• First, there is a practical ‘in the community’ component in which an environmental issue or solution is placed in a local context.
• Second, discipline specific content which links the exercise to the theoretical frameworks of that discipline.
These Local Actions represent a novel, timely and highly interactive way of engaging and empowering students.
Call for Participation
As part of the project Thijs Bosker and Paul Behrens want to team up with instructors from a divers set of study programmes across the University who are integrating (or want to integrate) sustainability issues into their courses. For example Law, Psychology, Public Administration, Economy and International Relations. As part of the project workshops will be organised with experts to identify links between environmental issues and key concepts within first-year foundational courses commonly taught at universities (e.g., Introduction to Psychology, or Macroeconomics).
Interested to join this project? Please contact Thijs Bosker and Paul Behrens!