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Climántica: A Web 2.0 Education Project

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Originally appears in the Summer 2011 issue

In the Spanish region of Galicia,

interest in environmental education rose dramatically after two major environmental disasters: a catastrophic oil spill which polluted thousands of kilometers of the Spanish coast in 2002, and the 2006 forest fires that affected more than 40% of Galicia’s forested region. The oil spill remains the largest environmental disaster in Spain’s history, and the forest fires resulted in severe erosion of topsoil that impacted shellfish beds in many of the region’s estuaries. These disastrous events raised public awareness of environmental issues throughout the region.

Following the disasters, an increased public demand for environmental information, along with the emerging issue of climate change, prompted the Galician government in 2006 to establish the Climántica project. The project was initiated as an interdisciplinary educational component of the “Galician Action Plan Against Climate Change”. It has been developed by four working groups of experts that collaborate via an intranet platform. From the beginning, these groups recognized that to achieve the scope of climate change education they desired, a fundamentally new approach was needed—one that included the use of online technology. Although the program was initially focused only on secondary school students in Galicia, the Climántica team soon began to explore the educational aspects of global climate change for an online audience of diverse ages, nationalities and languages.

From its inception, Climántica has been committed to establishing a web presence that allows teachers and students to exchange, assess and publicize their ideas, experiences and initiatives. It has also sought to enrich school curricula to provide environmental education resources on a range of issues related to climate change.

The project was strongly influenced by the project-based learning methodology originally proposed by John Dewey and W. H. Kilpatrick, whose writings have been instrumental in the development of critical thinking and the ability to create opinions on contemporary scientific issues. It is also based on other educational concepts such as social-constructivism, communication and argumentation processes in the classroom.

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Francisco Sóñora Luna is a biologist and teaching advisor. He is also the designer and project director of Climántica, a project of the General Directorate on Sustainability and Landscape, in the Department of Environment, Urban and Infrastructural Planning for the Xunta de Galicia (the autonomous government of Galicia), in Santiago de Compostela, Spain. He can be reached at fsluna@edu.xunta.es or via www.Climántica.org.