Shaping a sustainable future with a safe and secure energy
supply is one of the most pressing policy challenges confronting
us, in the face of the combined impact of climate
change, peak oil, and safety issues – illustrated by the catastrophic
accident at the Fukushima nuclear power plant.
The transition to a sustainable energy system will need
support from local communities as well as national and
global policymakers, so calls for both political and
social change. We must adapt energy policy to encourage
the use of renewable energy sources and increase
energy efficiency. More generally speaking, we need to
develop policy that fosters changes towards a carbon
Socially, we need to convince people to join in this transition
effort – as individuals and family members, as
consumers, as citizens, as professionals, as managers
or as policy makers. To do this, we must help people of
all ages to develop an understanding of energy issues
and to engage in sustainable behavioural solutions.
This requires practical examples and, particularly for
young people, role models to learn from and emulate,
now and in the future.
Education for Sustainable Development (ESD) is a key
means of attaining this goal, as recognized in UNESCO’s
Decade of Education for Sustainable Development
(2005–14). Education can help raise awareness about
energy and climate issues and support the development
of skills and behaviours based on sustainable values.
The SAUCE – Schools at University for Climate and
Energy – programme, in the spirit of ESD, introduces
children to the problems, but focuses primarily on
solutions, and children’s role in them.
The programme also introduces teachers to innovative ways of
integrating climate and energy topics into the curriculum, and
the school, after participating in the SAUCE programme. Finally,
SAUCE serves to identify and develop networks of local climate
and energy educators who help deliver the programme, and who
can serve as a resource for schools between programmes.
Researchers from seven European universities show, here, how
they can assist in this vital task. The researchers, whose professional
background is in energy policy analysis and economics,
previously addressed mainly policy makers and university social
science students, not children. But with SAUCE, they have
developed an innovative format with a wide range of sometimes
unorthodox approaches to make the abstract themes of climate
change and energy tangible and accessible to schoolchildren.
They have invited schools to the universities, and introduced the
pupils to the academy as a place for critical reflection, learning and
research. The format of the programme shows how the full range
of disciplines, from the arts to the natural sciences, contributes
awareness and understanding of energy and climate issues. Combining
these approaches allows a variety of experiential approaches
to learning and teaching, kinaesthetic, visual and aural, geared to
find a way of sparking the children’s interest and providing fertile
ground for their engagement in a sustainable future.