Schools of Sustainability

Agency in the Face of Crisis

March 2023–December 2024

Abschlusskongress: „Kann Schule Klima retten?“ in the context of S.O.S. – Schools of Sustainability, 2022

Abschlusskongress: „Kann Schule Klima retten?“ in the context of S.O.S. – Schools of Sustainability, 2022. Photo: Laura Fiorio © MVT photography

Public kick-off at the O Quilombismo opening June 2023
Concluding conference: September 2024
Teacher training courses: November 2024

During the exploration of the theme of sustainability at the S.O.S. Schools of Sustainability. Can Schools Save the Climate? (2021–22) project, fears about the future in light of the climate crisis were expressed. In addition to the effects of global warming that are increasingly felt, the public media suggests that the action of every individual is necessary in order to minimize the catastrophe. Self-efficacy and agency are terms that imply a possibility to influence political change and experience how one’s own actions, especially in a group, affect political decisions on climate policies and reduce personal fears. Conversely, this also implies that every form of passivity accelerates the catastrophe. The pressure weighing on individuals who don't take action—however infrequently or due to circumstance—is enormous. The oscillation between feeling powerless and the pressure to act can result in unprecedented psychological stress, especially for children and young people.

The project S.O.S. Schools of Sustainability. Agency in the Face of Crisis aims to address this feeling of helplessness. The theme of sustainability is expanded upon in this and the coming year using tools of artistic research in order to initiate processes of change in schools. Partnering with three schools in Berlin, the focus of the joint work is to explore the excessive stress as well as a loss of control and hopelessness that are often felt in the face of the climate crisis. The goal of the project work is, amongst other things, to develop strategies for the classroom that address these existential worries and to train teaching staff and sensitize parents to them as well. To this end, a series of teacher training courses take place regularly in 2023.

A further goal is to develop practices of care in school contexts. School social workers, educators, and external experts address and discuss the theme of climate concerns in spaces dedicated to open dialogue where all participants can articulate their fears and develop resilience strategies collectively. In a later phase of artistic research work, beginning in February 2024, participating students have the chance to brainstorm resistance techniques and examine current resistance actions such as #dieletztegeneration (#thelastgeneration) and others and their impact on the climate movement.

During a project presentation and conference in autumn 2024, the results of the artistic research are presented publicly and discussions are held by activists, psychologists, and educators on the theme of climate fear with school students and an interested public. The conference also centres the perspectives of communities and regions of the world that are especially affected by the climate crisis. Their practices and movements, as well as those of people with diasporic connections, are hardly seen, heard, or acknowledged by the predominantly white climate movement in this country. How can this blind spot be addressed in today’s education system? What is the attitude of white climate activism towards practices of resistance arising from other parts of the globe that may be more directly affected by the crisis?

In cooperation with partner universities, teaching aids are being developed over the course of this project and will be made available to all interested teachers once it has concluded.

Schools of Sustainability 2021/2022

The first edition of Schools of Sustainability took place in 2021/2022.

Funded by Senate Department for the Environment, Urban Mobility, Consumer Protection and Climate Action

Senate Department for the Environment, Urban Mobility, Consumer Protection and Climate Action