Wanda Sass / PhD Candidate

University of Antwerp, Faculty of Social Sciences, Department of Training and Education Sciences, Research Unit Edubron / Research in the field of Training and Education Sciences with focus on Action Competene in (Education for) Sustainable Development within 10 to 14-year-old students and their teachers

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My research focus is on action competence in sustainable development of children. A lot is being done in education to promote awareness of sustainability issues, but there is still room for more and better informed efforts. Universities and other research institutions can support school teams, students, and their parents in this. My main concern, though, is that time is limited and as a researcher you constantly have to set priorities: finish your research in time, or contribute to finding solutions to sustainability issues and raise awareness within society right now! Before doing research, I was an English teacher. I could discuss issues we both found important, as long as it was done in English. Sustainability issues were often focused on. I could contribute to raising awareness and giving opportunities for action directly, albeit within the limited scope of one subject and just with my own students. Doing research has brought new challenges both in raising awareness and in my own attempts to maintain a sustainable lifestyle.
I can reach more people by sharing findings with colleagues internationally. Through research I discover what is needed for people to become actively involved in searching solutions to sustainability issues. Seeing young people taking the responsibility to ask urgent action at a societal level, makes me hopeful for the future. They have succeeded in putting it in the spotlight. Quite an achievement! I support them wholeheartedly. The challenge lies in being more directly involved as a professional.
Personally, I learnt much from my daughter’s generation. They have pushed me to go for more sustainable choices in everyday life. I happily go to the office by e-bike (a 24-km or 15-mile) ride. On the other hand, I sometimes have to travel by plane for my job now. I try to limit the miles, but sometimes… Furthermore, I do what so many others do: avoid spilling water, recycling, saving electricity, changing eating habits, avoiding single-use plastics, etc. But I agree with the demonstrators for the climate (regardless whether they are protesting during school days or in the weekend 😉 ): we can’t do this on our own. We need more structural support. That’s why I add my voice to that of so many others in asking governments and industrials worldwide to take well-informed measures in favour of an energy transition, more and better public transport, etc. in order to mitigate climate change drastically.

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