The project has a ten year history. Here is an overview of the different project phases:
The FFU initiated the first topic focused “Schoolchildren’s University for Climate and Energy” as a pilot project on the 20th anniversary of the Chernobyl nuclear disaster. It was derived from the popular European model of children’s universities. Basically, the pilot drew inspiration from the popular term “Children’s Universities”, a widespread public outreach activity for children aged 7–14 year olds which has become common in many European universities. In 2005, the FFU re-interpreted this idea into an innovative topic focused format: A low barrier tool focusing on 5th and 6th grade classes from all education backgrounds and accessible for schools from all twelve districts of Berlin. The program took place in 2006 as a lecture series. 2600 students participated and their teachers gave very positive feedback.
The positive response to the pilot program in Berlin inspired the FFU to bring the the idea to a wider audience. Thanks to the European program “Intelligent Energy Europe”, the Schoolchildren’s University model was carried out successfully by seven European partner universities in Berlin, London, Vienna, Roskilde, Aalborg, Riga, and Twente as SAUCE (Acronym for: Schools@University for Climate + Energy), which was supported by the European Commission from 2008 to 2011.
For more information about the European Children’s Universities visit: www.eucu.net.
The FFU was the coordinator of the EU project. Following the idea of the pilot, each university opened their campus as an extra-curricular out of school learning place for teachers and young students. This facilitated a transfer of knowledge and competencies, deepened the understanding of environmental and climate topics and opened new paths for universities’ public outreach. All universities chose an interdisciplinary and participatory approach for teaching the young students. Each partner university created their own country-specific version of the format. In three years, a viable ESD education format for a total of 19,000 students was created. 35,000 workshop places were offered and 1250 teachers participated in the ccompanying teacher trainings. An intensive, continuous exchange of experiences between all six universities was crucial for this success.
Based on the European SAUCE experience, FFU has continued with the format with a modified name in Berlin: Schools@University for Sustainability + Climate Protection. Eight additional one-week programs and eight teacher trainings were offered at Freie Universität from 2011–2015. This was promoted and propelled by the 2011 Climate Protection Agreement between Freie Universität Berlin and Berlin’s Government. Freie Universität was Berlin’s first university to become a partner of Berlin’s climate protection plans, meaning the University needs to lower its CO2 emissions and its energy use by 10 % compared to 2010. Schools@University’s relevance for the energy transition and its positive feedback from target groups ensured the formalized continuation of the format.
In 2015 Freie Universität Berlin, Berlin’s Government and the climate protection partners of the Berlin Government Berliner Wasserbetriebe, Berliner Stadtreinigungsbetriebe (BSR) and the GASAG signed bilateral cooperation contracts with FFU with the common educational goal to support the ESD format Schools@University for another 5 years. Thanks to the support of these partners, ten program cycles and ten accompanying teacher trainings are being run at Freie Universität since 2016.