An interesting educational project called Engage + with the Earth Charter

María del Mar Lluelles
, from Lleida, Spain, is a member of the project Engage+ with the Earth Charter and is also part of the Earth Charter volunteer network.

Engage + is a project in which 43 teachers of Lleida participated who have created teaching materials related to ethics and sustainability. You can learn more about this project here.

Recently, the Engage + project won the award for the best project offered by the Impuls Foundation. The jury selected it because of its use of ICTs and its applicability for all ages, but especially because it is a project that has involved the participation of many teachers and is being implemented in various centers in the province of Lleida. For more information, visit this link.

Knowing all this work that María del Mar and her colleagues in Lleida are doing, ECI conducted an interview with her to learn more about the group’s motivation to work voluntarily to promote the Earth Charter and implement ethical principles towards sustainable lifestyles.

1. What motivated you and your colleagues to create the Engage + project with the Earth Charter?

Engage+ with the Earth Charter is a crosscutting project that aims to educate towards changing current social and environmental behaviors. It also aims to educate emotionally and foster a culture of peace and respect. We are moved by the ethical, social, and educational commitment for a decent future for all.

Depending on the education level you want to target, different points of the Charter are addressed. For example, with children of the first cycle (0-6 years), we work on aspects of Pillar II (Ecological Integrity) with the students of Primary Education (6-12 years), in addition to the above we also work on aspects of Pillar I (Respect and Care for the community of life), and in some sections of Pillar III (Social and Economic Justice, principles 9 and 12, especially, and with students in Secondary Education (12-18 years), all the principles of the Charter, giving emphasis to the knowledge and appreciation of Pillar IV-Democracy, nonviolence, and peace.

The Engage + project with the Earth Charter can work throughout the school year or at a particular time if it is intended to perform only one of the many activities offered. Certain actions are designed to be performed in a few sessions and others require implementation over time, depending on the interests and motivations of the group.

The project offers a wide range of activities to influence the various curricular areas, whether the natural and social sciences, language, through plastic arts, mathematics, technology, etc. To achieve this, different methodologies are used (work dossiers, file cards, games, stories, handicrafts, photo galleries, learning technology and knowledge (LTK) educational proposals such as: activities with interactive whiteboard, treasure hunts, webquests, JCLIC (interactive games using java platform), symbaloos, wikis, blogs, etc.).

The underlying idea is clear: we all have to seek alternatives and to call for action regarding awareness on “global ethics”, a commitment to ourselves, other people, and nature.

The project started in 2011-2012 thanks to the contributions of 27 authors, an excellent team of teachers from all across Catalonia. All of them spent many hours of their free time, weekends, and summer holidays to create educational materials that helped introduce the idea of solidarity in schools and high schools. Materials were developed with the objective to increase students’ awareness of the world they live in, social differences, and the need to work together to improve our human environment .

Over the next two years (2012-13 and 2013-14), the group continued to work on the project and complemented it with contributions of a wide range of new features, among which included the expansion of the team.

Currently, during 2015-16, there are 42 teachers working together to bring about the idea of social awareness to other areas or principles contained in The Earth Charter, such as environmental conservation or actions to ensure that our world will become more dignified, more livable and, ultimately, a better world.

2. How has it helped you be part of the Earth Charter volunteers’ network?

I enrolled in the volunteers’ network to present our project: to create a network of solidarity schools in which all centers can collaborate by contributing their experiences and/or sharing teaching materials.

3. What has been the biggest incentive that you have had to continue this work with the EC?

Thanks to an interesting lecture by Federico Mayor Zaragoza, I discovered the Earth Charter document, which inspired us to develop many of the educational materials posted on the web, since it can work in all areas and at all educational levels. No doubt this has been the greatest incentive to continue working on the project Engage +.

ECI wants to extend our gratitude to María del Mar and her colleagues for their wonderful efforts to promote a more sustainable, just and peaceful world.