The LEVERS project is researching ways we can understand the cause of complicated problems in our society, through using systems thinking and critical approaches in education and communities. We are exploring ways we can take collective action when faced with gnarly issues like climate change and social justice. In other words, how can we work together in spite of our differences to address the climate crisis in a way that is fair to all?
Image: LEVERS Team
LEVERS is a €2.4m Trinity-led Horizon Europe education project. The three-year project aims to embed collaboration and interdisciplinarity in climate education across a range of learning settings – formal, informal, adult and community education. Led by Mairéad Hurley, Assistant Professor School of Education, the LEVERS project has been funded by the European Commission, UKRI & SERI to investigate the potential of localised learning ecosystems to support community climate responses in nine countries: Ireland, the UK, Portugal, Belgium, Switzerland, Slovenia, Serbia, Greece, and Cyprus. The project will research the implementation of a transdisciplinary, lifelong-learning approach to science education in diverse settings across Europe, addressing the complex challenge of the climate and environmental crisis.
Since its launch in March 2023, LEVERS has been consulting with artists, activists, adult educators, biodiversity champions, charities, cultural organisations, community groups, educators, government bodies, local authorities, libraries, NGOs, researchers and scientists working on topics related to climate justice in Ireland. Over the past four months, the LEVERS team has been carrying out interviews with experts, attending conferences and networking events, as well as hosting three public consultation workshops. The aim of this work was to map climate change education and community initiatives in Ireland, and to understand some of the challenges facing those working in the field.
The insights from these workshops were submitted to the Department for Environment, Climate and Communications’ Climate Conversations Consultation in August 2023, and used to shape an ongoing Open Call. LEVERS is inviting applications from cross-sectoral alliances from anywhere in the Republic of Ireland to collaborate on an 18-month-long project to take collective action to address an issue of climate justice in their area. These alliances should be formed by schools, community groups and other organisations within a region, and span a range of ages and demographics.
The selected applicant group will be supported by Trinity researchers and LEVERS partners, to create a community project through which learners of all ages will work together towards a sustainable and just future for their area.
The selected area will receive:
- Financial assistance up to €15,000* to realise their project
- Access to expertise in climate change and sustainability education, design thinking and community co-creation
- Professional learning for teachers, youth educators, community leaders and others involved in the project
- Support to design, activate and promote a community project
- Assistance to create a long-term plan for the project beyond the 18-month period.
Once appointed, LEVERS will work with a selected alliance, for 18 months, to form a Learning Venture. Where they will work with their wider community, to explore why a problem might be happening, what other factors might be influencing the situation, and to examine whether the problem is what we first assumed it to be. We work with, and for, communities to help design solutions to this problem. LEVERS supports communities to leverage their own unique assets to build the futures they want to see.
As the world becomes increasingly unpredictable, it is becoming ever clearer that we need to move beyond our old ways of planning for the future. We need to break down boundaries and borders if we are to work together for a flourishing future for all. Education has a huge role to play in that, but we also must remember that learning happens in so many settings beyond the walls of a school, throughout our entire lives – and now, more than ever, we need to learn new ways to live together in changing times. LEVERS is calling for a cross-community, intergenerational, localised and creative approach to learning about how to care for our locality and everything within it – including one another. We’re firmly of the belief that “ar scáth a chéile a mhaireann na daoine” and we’re excited to identify groups to work with us as part of LEVERS – we hope it will be the first of many such climate optimism journeys we can support.
Climate action at community level is perhaps the most empowering way for communities to achieve climate justice and address the issues they face directly. The Mary Robinson Centre is excited to see projects like LEVERS which embolden schools and communities to take a central role in climate justice projects in Ireland.
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