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Polibienestar European Award for Innovative Teaching from the European Commission

Polibienestar European Award for Innovative Teaching from the European Commission

  • 28/09/2022

The European Erasmus+-funded SUSTAIN project (2017-1-NL01-KA201-035284), which involves secondary school students in research on sustainable landscapes, has been awarded the European Innovative Teaching Award 2002 by the European Commission.

The consortium involved eleven partners from three countries, including the Polibienestar Research Institute of the University of Valencia. With an interdisciplinary and socio-technical consortium of researchers from the Netherlands, Spain and Cyprus, as well as the European Science Engagement Association (EUSEA), the project has developed teaching modules on biodiversity, water management and bird migration. These modules are available free of charge to all schools. Project leader Maaike de Heij from the Faculty of Science and Engineering at the University of Groningen will receive the award on behalf of the consortium in Brussels on 25 October: “Our modules provide pupils with knowledge they can use in the future, when their generation has to decide on landscape conservation.

Find the modules in the Sustain project portfolio here

The European Innovative Teaching Award was established by the European Commission in 2021 to highlight and recognise the work of teachers and schools, showcase innovative teaching practices and highlight the value of the Erasmus+ programme for the collaboration of European teachers and the creation of the European Education Area. The theme of the 2022 awards was “Learning Together, Promoting Creativity and Sustainability”.

This theme fits perfectly with the SUSTAIN project, which aims to help young people become active and independent European citizens who think critically and know how to actively solve socially relevant problems – such as climate adaptation – and have an impact on their local community. The three SUSTAIN teaching modules are based on regional problems in the Netherlands (biodiversity and food web structure in agricultural landscapes), Cyprus (illegal trapping and consumption of migratory songbirds) and Spain (management of declining water levels in the Albufera lake near Valencia).

All teaching modules have been designed to be relevant to wider contexts and to connect classroom learning with fieldwork. Students’ fieldwork has involved interviewing scientists, conservationists, local politicians and users of the landscape, e.g. farmers and fishermen. Students also claim to have acquired research skills by comparing undisturbed and cultivated land. They also have to present their findings to peers, parents and stakeholders.

The central question of all modules is how citizens of our modern communities can use the landscape in which they live without destroying its biodiversity.

Any decision we make about the use of landscapes will have an effect on the next generation. That is why SUSTAIN was created for students aged 14-16. It is important to include young people in discussions about sustainable landscapes,” says De Heij.

For Polibienestar, “the project has had a positive impact on critical thinking, self-efficacy and awareness of local environmental issues in young Europeans.

All learning modules created by SUSTAIN are available in English, Spanish, Dutch and Cypriot via “SUSTAIN at school – E-learning modules” on the SUSTAIN website

Polibienestar is a UV institute whose mission is to improve the well-being and quality of life of society; its director Jorge Garcés is Professor of Social Policy at UV and Prince of Asturias Professor at Georgetown University (USA).

News published at the University of Valencia’s Website

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