The concept is simple: in an integrated approach in which education is enriched with topics such as sustainability, energy saving and the development of ‘’21st century skills’’. The pupils become active in making their school and the neighborhood around it more sustainable.
The transition to low a low carbon energy system cannot solely rely on technological innovation, since many social aspects also influence the energy transition. The engagement and motivation of people, and different forms of cooperation between government and citizens are important aspects of the transition. The ‘Schools as energy-embassy in the neighborhood’ project tries to contribute to the social innovation needed to enhance the energy transition.
Technotrend Foundation, Delft University of Technology, AMS-Institute and 7Senses collaborate in the implementation of the ‘Schools as energy-embassy in the neighborhood’ project. The aim of the project is to create new initiatives that will enhance and accelerate the local energy transition, based on the ideas generated by the pupils and local stakeholders. The project takes place on eight different schools in Utrecht and Amsterdam, among which are primary schools Achtsprong and the Rozemarn in the Bijlmermeer neighborhood.
The project is a participatory action research with a multi-stakeholder approach. Participatory Action Research (PAR) is a research approach that combines science and practice. Different from standard qualitative research is that there is more attention for practice, the local context, and a bottom-up approach which enhances the empowerment of the participants and the usefulness of their ideas.
“Participatory Action Research is aimed at creating promising initiatives. During our research project we found that it is possible to bring people together in a creative way to form new initiatives in workshops of an hour and a half. In these workshops we used PAR-methods, like appreciative inquiry and a bottom-up approach, which contributed to the level of co-creation of effective initiatives that enhance the local energy transition.”
Patrick van der Hofstad, Project lead of Technotrend Foundation, January 2019.
The multi-stakeholder approach takes place at three different levels. Researchers from TU Delft design and supervise the research. The Technotrend Foundation and Energie-U are carrying out the action research. Pupils of the eight participating schools explore together with stakeholders in the neighborhood possibilities for sustainable initiatives that they implement together.
Due to this project, the pupils will enhance their knowledge on sustainability and the energy transition. Additionally, they will develop their 21stcentury skills, which are various core competencies such as collaboration, critical thinking, adopting a global mindset, and problem-solving that are believed to help pupils prepare for today's world.
The realization of this project was made possible by a subsidy from the Topsector Energy of the Ministry of Economic Affairs.