About Snowflake Education (old)
Snowflake Education provides everything you need to plan and deliver a course module in sustainable development.
The mission of Snowflake Education is to provide the teaching materials and tools needed for efficiently planning and executing education for sustainable development.
Snowflake Education was founded by university lecturer Dr. Jon-Erik Dahlin. While at the Royal Institute of Technology in Stockholm, Sweden, Dr. Dahlin initiated, prepared and delivered a course module on Sustainable Development. The module was subsequently integrated into several Engineering Programmes at the Institute and currently runs for between 600 and 800 students each year.
Dr. Dahlin integrated a number of innovative teaching techniques in the module: debate lectures, board games and computerised exams, which have been both very popular among students and shown to generate high quality learning. The interest to integrate Sustainable Development into university subject courses has increased – for good reason – and the demand for Dr. Dahlin’s services as a course leader eventually passed what he could possibly deliver.
This lead to the idea to summarise all the important elements of the course module on an online platform that any lecturer could use. Typically, Dr. Dahlin’s course module is integrated into a subject course to introduce the concept of sustainable development and for integrating a sustainability perspective on the material in the course. With the online learning platform, it is easy to integrate such an introduction and a sustainability perspective in any course.
We believe that a sustainable development is achievable and that a prosperous future is both possible and within our reach. However, it will not be obtained automatically and huge efforts are needed in order to secure functioning ecosystems, continuous economic development and general welfare for all people.
‘Sustainable Development’ can be understood as the attempt to continue to develop technological, political and social innovations that bring a better life to more people, but in a sustainable way that does not undermine the productivity of natural and social systems. The United Nations defines Sustainable Development as a “development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs”. However, it should be emphasised that there is no universally accepted definition of the term. Rather, there exists a range of definitions, with variations in details depending on ideological values (Heinberg & Lerch, 2010). As an academic subject, Sustainable Development is indeed a subject of values where opinions matter. Differences in opposing standpoints relating to sustainability issues can be tracked to differences between basic paradigms of thought, relating to ethics and moral philosophy.
Another aspect that makes sustainability a difficult subject to learn and to understand is the fact that sustainability issues are often intrinsically complex. In complex systems, a rich flora of interconnected units or agents that affect each other by various parameter flows, can lead to increasing or dampening feedback loops. Properties of system dynamics, such as conflicting time scales, may lead to overexploitation of natural resources and eventual system collapses.
It is our strong belief that Education for Sustainable Development means including key sustainable development issues into the learning experience such as climate change, disaster risk reduction, biodiversity, poverty reduction, and sustainable consumption. It also requires participatory learning methods that motivate and empower learners to change their behaviour and take action for a sustainable development. Education for sustainable development should consequently promote competencies like critical thinking, imagining future scenarios and making decisions in a collaborative way.
Integrating sustainability into subject courses may bring many difficult challenges. Many teachers realise the importance of integrating discussions on sustainability into their course, but feel uncertain exactly how to go about doing that. Therefore, we have developed a range of products that enables teachers to easily integrate a sustainability subsection into their subject courses. This includes several educational games and an online learning platform that includes a set of different classroom and off-classroom.
We believe that teaching sustainable development as a natural and integrated part of any course should be easy and straightforward!