Our world is facing tremendous global environmental challenges such as climate change, drinking water shortage and loss of biodiversity. To develop sustainable solutions of these challenges, our educational system has to fulfil the obligation to enable citizens to deal with complex problems. To do so, people need competencies – not only profound scientific know-how but also transversal skills (such as critical thinking, creativity, responsible citizenship competences and forward-looking skills). This is important as sustainable decisions cannot be taken only based merely on scientific facts, they are also influenced by ethical, cultural, ecologic and economic aspects. Dealing with environmental issues will also promote interdisciplinary co-operation in science, technology, engineering and maths.
This is the starting situation which ENSITE picks up. Research proposes the engagement of socio-scientific issues (SSI) as one promising path to developing environmental citizenship competencies. ENSITE aims at improving higher education by including environmental SSI in science initial teacher education (ITE). To this end the project consortium will develop an innovative approach to supporting teachers in developing competences in dealing with environmental SSI as well as in acquiring teaching skills to supporting their future students at school in becoming responsible citizens themselves.
In the longer term, ENSITE is expected to contribute to a widespread shared awareness of social and environmental responsibility.