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Preparing Transition Year for a Just Transition

Illustration by Amanda Joy Ravenhill from the Buckminster Fuller Institute

We stand at a critical moment in Earth's history, a time when humanity must choose its future. As the world becomes increasingly interdependent and fragile, the future at once holds great peril and great promise. To move forward we must recognize that in the midst of a magnificent diversity of cultures and life forms we are one human family and one Earth community with a common destiny. We must join together to bring forth a sustainable global society founded on respect for nature, universal human rights, economic justice, and a culture of peace. Towards this end, it is imperative that we, the peoples of Earth, declare our responsibility to one another, to the greater community of life, and to future generations.

The Earth Charter, Preamble

It is no secret that in this current global climate, we are constantly exposed to narratives about the unprecedented challenges we are facing as a global community. Food insecurity and extreme weather events are evidently on the rise as we continue to dive headlong into an unknown future due to a near-inevitable climate emergency, with severe consequences for all living things on our planet in the coming decades. The rates of extinction, rising tides in small island nations and coastal communities, and increased famine are already showing the increase and impact of those consequences are already occurring in multiple locations across the world.

One certainty we do know is that we must alter our actions immediately in order to even attempt to solve what is already a dire situation. Fortunately, there is a lot of important work occurring around the world to support change and provide solutions, but one area that drastically needs an overhaul to support and nurture that change is our education systems.

Education is the most powerful weapon you can use to change the world."

Nelson Mandela, 1990

Education could be one of the most powerful potential access paths to change what exists on our planet - it shapes mindsets and ultimately holds the key to creating a positive, altered future. As it stands, education systems around the world tend to remain disconnected to the warning signs that are pointing towards a climate emergency. The roots of this can be traced to a need for leadership that equips its citizenry with the knowledge and skills to deal with global challenges.

Further, the education and training of educators is also focused on delivering within this context. This system is no longer adequately fostering in students the opportunities to develop and apply novel skills that can help solve real-world challenges. Teachers and students need support if they are to meet their potential as well as prepare for new societal, environmental, technological and economic challenges. We require creative, whole systems, ethical thinkers and doers with an ability to be agile, try new approaches and manage risk.

Muinín Catalyst Sustainable STEAM (MCSS) is a suite of cross-curricular programmes with a range of Transition Year Units, that blend the skills and competencies from the arts into the STEM subjects, with a focus on sustainable action. Muinín Catalyst Sustainable STEAM emerged out of 3 year’s research through SMARTlab, the Inclusive Design Centre of Ireland, UCD and Future Focus21c, and was selected by the Royal Irish Academy Climate Change and Environmental Sciences committee for best practice in knowledge co-production for a sustainable society - Better Together report (RIA, 2021).

United Nations SDGs: - a Roadmap for global collaboration

Muinín Catalyst Sustainable STEAM Resources - Phase 1

Phase 1 of MCSS was developed in line with the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals, an extensive roadmap for peace and prosperity for all people and our planet, which education systems can use to prepare students for an unknown future. The integration of socio-emotional and psychological wellbeing, underpinned by knowledge and creativity can support global students on their quest in helping make our planet a more hospitable and equitable place to live in for all living things. Developed by an interdisciplinary team of subject experts; Scientists, Technologists, Engineers and Mathematicians integrated with artists, interactive designers, education technologists, curriculum developers and researchers, the MCSS programmes embed transdisciplinary pedagogical approach that utilises the Sustainable Development Goals as a thematic principle for place-based STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, the Arts, and Mathematics) education.

The programmes lesson plans and blended learning resources augment the Irish Curriculum with 21st Century future-ready skills; creativity, collaboration, critical thinking, creative problem-solving, design thinking. They are designed to be delivered by any teacher no matter their STEAM experience or subject knowledge and built to facilitate the ability to communicate and develop effective real-world solutions to key global challenges.

Earth Charter's 4 pillars Image: Earth Charter International, 2022

Our next phase of resource development recognises that we need to do more than develop approaches that are sustainable, we must develop regenerative and restorative practices and solutions that put back more than they take. To this end we are developing our new resources for full trialling with teachers and learners beginning Sept 2023 using the Earth Charter framework consisting of four pillars and 16 principles. Since its final approval in 2000 the Earth Charter has been adopted by organisations such as United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) Engineers Without Borders, and the World Conservation Union

You can find out more about the Earth Charter’s 4 pillars and 16 principles here

The Future is Now.

It is time to prepare today's students for today’s world.

Muinin Catalyst Sustainable STEAM will work with 16 schools in the Munster province and provide Transition Year students with experiences that will prepare them for the next steps in their learning and life journeys beyond formal education. The MCSS project has been set up to gather critical data that will help augment and update the Irish Senior Cycle with 21st Century future-ready skills based towards an Irish curriculum for all.

Would you like to be one of those 16 schools?

Please get in touch with MCSS using the links provided below and find out how we can help your school community and its students prepare for a VUCA world - one which is volatile, uncertain, complex and ambiguous.

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