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Conceptual Background

SAUCE builds upon experience with European “kids’ universities” which have been held since 2002 first in Germany and Austria and subsequently in universities in numerous other European countries. But in contrast to SAUCE, these have been aimed primarily at presenting the universities science programmes and enhancing access to university for a new generation of academics. Children of different age groups have been invited to attend lectures on a great variety of subjects outside their regular school contexts. In a few cases, attention is increasingly being payed to the actual themes and methods by which the subject matter is imparted to the children. Consequetly, structural changes have been taken away from ex cathedra teaching of the early kids’ university toward more interactive formats, such as workshops. SAUCE makes use of the kid’s university format but explicitly puts the thematic focus on energy use and climate change.

Moreover, SAUCE takes a focus on choosing effective pedagogical concepts. The concept of energy education is closely linked to that of environmental education in general and education for sustainable development in particular. To integrate these in school education, a process of re-formulating and extending pedagogical concepts and approaches has been set off. In a number of European countries, there is a broad consensus that the input-oriented approach to teaching, “learning facts and figures”, does not suffice as a tool to address sustainability issues. Pupils need to acquire problem solving competence, i.e. the competences and skills which allow them to reflect on situations, identify and evaluate problems, develop solutions, communicate these to others, and to carry them out.

In order to enhance children’s competences and self-motivation, it is recognised that schools need to be open to extracurricular and interactive learning and to project-oriented work that fosters an interdisciplinary, active approach to learning. In the case of energy use, this requires that energy behaviour be discussed in the larger context of climate change phenomena, energy production technologies or global justice issues. As part of this process, practitioners and researchers have focussed on finding methods and tools for presenting a message with inherently pessimistic, destructive connotations (“the future of the world is at stake”) and which raises issues of personal responsibility (“you contribute to this state by the way you live”) in a way which does not put the younger generation off, but instead motivates them to ask, think, act and change their (energy) behaviour. The search for such methods and tools has not been concluded and needs to be continued on a learning-by-doing basis.

Additional reading

de Hahn, Gerhard: Politische Bildung für Nachhaltigkeit, Aus Politik und Zeitgeschichte, 7-8 / 2004, pp. 39-46.

Federal Ministry of economic cooperation and development, Standing Conference of Ministers of Education and Cultural Affairs: A Cross-Curricular Framework for Global Development Education in the Context of Education for Sustainable Development Globalisation, Bonn 2007.

OECD (Hg): DeSeCo Strategy Paper. An overarching Frame of References fo a Coherent Assessment and Research Program on Key Competencies.


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