Intercultural Sister Classrooms

 

Lead organization: EcoGlobal S.A., Costa Rica

Website: www.sisterclassrooms.org

Summary: The project is an educational pilot project which raises awareness of lifecycle analysis, engaging teachers and students across America in new ways of learning and acting. Lifecycle analysis in purchasing and production decisions is an important skill for current and future generations of school leavers.

Objective: The objectives are to create and test a new international participatory education process, combining lifecycle analysis and global citizenship material from existing resources and to develop, test, and refine a web-based system which enables classrooms in different parts of the world to motivate and inform each other's efforts

The story: Sister Classrooms uses two methods to educate and achieve behavior change:

  1. The project adopts a Freirian approach to education. This approach, based on the work of Brazilian educator and influential theorist Paulo Freire, emphasizes the importance of dialogue to facilitate collaboration, and the potential for this type of working to enhance communities and build social capital.
  2. The project focuses on lifecycle concepts in the context of sustainable consumption and global citizenship. Depending on the particular software or information used, lifecycle approaches can focus on material and energy flows of products and services, and can also take into account labor conditions.
  3. Three international workshops have been held involving teachers and experts from the USA, Canada, Brazil and Costa Rica. A web platform has been launched to disseminate training material for educators, and to facilitate sharing between and within classrooms. The website also provides a space for students and teachers to document what they have done when addressing local sustainable consumption issues through specific projects.

Outcomes: The project has been implemented in the USA, Brazil and Costa Rica. An initial focus on 'cross cultural learning' between the USA and its 'developing' counterparts in Costa Rica and Mexico has been a rich and complex element. Students from a private school in Costa Rica, where every student had a laptop, were put in contact with students from a rural American school with only one computer. This process has helped to break down traditional notions of the 'developed' vs. 'developing' dynamic for those involved.

Lessons: The project provides a number of lessons for those looking to engage people on sustainable lifestyles:

  • Facilitate connection
    The Intercultural Sister Classrooms project developed a web platform to disseminate training material for educators, and to facilitate sharing between and within classrooms internationally. The website also provides a space for students and teachers to document and share their experiences addressing local sustainable consumption issues.
  • Evaluate and evolve
    The project continually tested and adapted the information and engagement approach to make them more effective. They quickly learnt what did and didn't work.
  • Nurture relationships
    Intercultural Sister Classrooms developed good relationships with school teachers and principals and benefited from the support of government ministries

Contacts:
Ms. Ana Quiros: aquiros@ecoglobala.com