FSC | Field Studies Council

Field Studies Council: Bringing Environmental Understanding to All

Schools for Resilience

The Schools for Resilience (SfR) project is an innovative learning programme taking a new approach to environmental education and education for sustainable development in schools. It is basedon actions towards healthier, more responsive, and more resilient local communities,and developing the competencies students will need in the 21st century to collaboratively engage with challenges such as climate change.

SfR aims to encourage students to engage with their local community and develop a resilience-­‐building project in the areas of energy, waste, food or transport. The project should build the community’s ability cope with challenges, link local issues to global sustainability issues and help to encourage, motivate and create new opportunities for young people to actively participate in their communities.

The teaching plans for SfR projects will include suggested activities that can be driven by young people and that can be implemented in their community. It is envisioned that the projects undertaken will reinforce their connection to the people and the environment around them,and therefore strengthen their own and theircommunity’s resilience.

Simply put, community resilience is about the building of better relationships with our neighbours and the strengthening of socialbonds; it is about encouraging a greater senseof place, having the capacity to collaboratively solve problems, and the ability to steward resources together.

In an SfR project, the proposed action or intervention in the local area will act as a trigger to the students’ learning, which should take place in the community and not inthe classroom. However the school is a significant asset and one that students could utilize to host an event for the community.

Take look at this wonderful example of a resilience project undertaken by students in Colaiste Chill Mhantain School, Ireland - video and website.

What is resilience?

Resilience is the ability to cope with adversity (e.g., anything from an individual setback to a major disaster), to learn from the experience, and to grow stronger as a result. Community Resilience is the ability of a community as a whole to cope effectively with, and learn from, adversity.

Socio-ecological resilience aims to improve the adaptability of local communities to environmental, social and economic challenges as a necessary feature for a sustainable future. This concept is demonstrated by the Transition Towns’ movement – community-led responses to climate change and shrinking supplies of cheap energy. It is one of the most successful examples of communities working to raise awareness and organise collective action for improving their sustainability and resilience. 

Which educational approach?

We consider the Place-Based Learning (PBL) methodology as the most suitable for teaching resilience.   PBL is “an educational approach that uses all aspects of the local environment, including local cultural, historical, and sociopolitical situations and the natural and built environment, as the integrating context for learning”, (from Learning to Make Choices). PBL links learning to the particular characteristics of people and places. It initiates a process of social change by immersing students in their local environment and the rich diversity of community-based opportunities, establishing an active participation between school and community. Through PBL students develop a pride and understanding of place, and develop skills to engage in and improve their communities.

We have produced two reports on our educational approach: SfR Research and SFR Methodology and Model.

How are we going to do it?

We will be piloting our approach in different schools and their communities in Spain, Denmark, Ireland, Italy, Latvia and the United Kingdom. Students between 12-16 years old will assess their community and make a proposal on how to improve the local sustainability and resilience in one of the following areas: food, waste, energy and mobility.

Who are we?

The FSC is working with five partners from across Europe: Aranzadi Society of Sciences (Basque Country, Spain); VIAC (Denmark); Municipality of Olginate (Italy); Cultivate (Ireland); and Bernu Vides Skola (Latvia).

For more information contact [email protected]

Download the latest project newsletter here.


EU LLP logoThis project has been funded with support from the European Commission. This publication reflects the views only of the author, and the Commission cannot be held responsible for any use which may be made of the information contained therein.