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Why is STEM Education for Sustainable Development so important?

Global challenges call for interdisciplinary solutions and the comprehensive promotion of competence. They thus challenge the STEM disciplines to participate in the social process of searching, learning, and designing aimed at solving global sustainability issues and to reflect on their contribution to (non-)sustainable developments. Therefore, this year’s conference in the series “International Dialogue on STEM Education” (IDoS) organised by the “Haus der kleinen Forscher” Foundation and Siemens Stiftung will focus on STEM Education for Sustainable Development.

A flower showing the goals of Education for Sustainable Development.
© Stiftung Haus der kleinen Forscher
The goals of Education for Sustainable Development serve as a guide to what this educational concept is aimed at.

What do we actually mean by Education for Sustainable Development?

Education for Sustainable Development empowers us to think and act in a sustainable way. Many things in the world and in our societies are changing rapidly. At best, we can not only keep pace with these changes but also shape them in such a way that, for example, resources are distributed in a more socially equitable way and future generations will find a world worth living in. Even at early childhood education and care centres, after-school centres, and primary schools, children can engage with sustainable development issues together with the pedagogical staff. The goals of Education for Sustainable Development presented here serve as a guide to what this educational concept is aimed at. They are not consecutive steps, but rather can be pursued separately or in combination.

Access through exploration and inquiry

Access to Education for Sustainable Development often arises during exploration and inquiry activities on mathematical, computer science, science, or technology topics. Questions that relate to sustainable development issues include, for example: “Where do mobile phones come from?” and “How do we live together?”. When discussing these questions, opportunities for reflective action may arise. The goals set out here serve as a substantive guide for this process.

Adults as role models for children

The role of the adults in the educational process consists in supporting the children in their development in relation to the goal areas. This implies, in the ideal case, that the adults also strive to achieve the goals for themselves. Education for Sustainable Development finds expression in practiced values, among other things. The pedagogical staff are facilitators of education and learning and act as role models. The more they identify with the goal areas, the more authentic they can be in their role. The heads of the educational facilities also shape the framework for sustainable action. It, too, should be authentic and reflect the goals. This means that operational management, the procurement of all goods, and the pedagogical concept should also be geared towards the sustainable development of the institution.

The "International Dialogue on STEM Education" (IDoS) is a joint conference of the "Haus der kleinen Forscher" Foundation and Siemens Stiftung. The IDoS conference takes place under the auspices of the German Commission for UNESCO. Further partners and sponsors are the German Federal Foreign Office, the Robert Bosch Stiftung, and the OECD.

If you have any questions about the conference, please get in touch with our project manager, Jasemin Seven.

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