STEAM education is a great way to bring critical and innovative thinking about sustainability issues into the classroom, and importantly it has potential for action and empowerment. STEAM covers subjects that would be naturally associated with sustainability but by its definition seeks to work across subject boundaries so could also draw in other subjects such as human geography, history and psychology (arts in the broadest sense) as well as art and design.
By linking sustainability to STEAM initiatives a school can ensure that the responsibility for doing ‘green’ or ‘eco’ activities doesn’t fall to one teacher or club.
In the context of STEAM education ‘Green’ must stand for hope.
It stands for Active Hope that ignites action based on a vision for a healthier, fairer future for the planet and its inhabitants. It stands for STEAM for ecological sustainability and social justice, but sounds catchier!
Climate change has become a climate crisis; action is required at all levels, in all sectors to abate what is already a catastrophe in many countries. While many students are taking to the streets demanding quality education on climate change and for the future others, probably often the same ones, are worrying about looking their best in the latest fashions. Either way, it will be an issue that defines their future and all young people have a right to understand the basic science and moral complexities of climate change.
The ‘Green’ in Green STEAM encompasses understanding, connecting with and acting on what is being taught; or in education for sustainability theory terms, ‘education about, in and for the future’ (Lucus, 1972 and Stephen Sterling, 2001).
‘Green’ isn’t about individuals having to take on all the problems of the world, or individual guilt.
There is a growing need for more focus on the ‘connecting’ section of the Green STEAM approach especially in light of COVID-19 and increasingly online based learning and communicating. It is also the piece of this puzzle required to address physical and mental health, and be a balancing factor to eco-anxiety.
Green STEAM was the name for a one off workshop for a STEM and environmental education conference that never happened because of Covid-19. Inspired by my research for an MSc module on sustainable behaviour change the workshop idea is now germinating as a comprehensive education for sustainability programme BUT its roots are still deciding what direction to take and it has a lot of growing to do.
If you are a STEM teacher, educator or work in the field of climate and social justice and are interested in finding out more about this programme please email me. It is wide open for collaboration currently and the way it evolves will depend on what ideas and skills people bring to it.
This programme also needs artists who enjoy educating. If you are an artist who draws on science, technology, engineering or maths and themes relating to sustainability and the future in your work, and you can imagine leading sessions with students please do get in touch.