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August 26, 2016

Urbanism curricula trialled in Belarus

Urbanism curricula trialled in Belarus

SEiSMiC is a step closer to releasing a new teachers guide on cutting-edge urbanism.

In July, it ran a test drive of a draft curriculum for secondary school students on urban challenges and socially innovative solutions. The guide, called "Streetsmarts", is being developed by  SEiSMiC's Hungarian partner, the Regional Environmental Center for Central and Eastern Europe (REC).

The guide's beta version was posted last year on the project website, and it subsequently went through test runs at two Hungarian schools. Then in July, it went through another run at an international workshop on environmental sciences in Minsk, Belarus.

The Belarus workshop, held under the auspices of the European Environmental Sciences Student Association's (EURENSSA) 2016 Summer University, drew  29 participants from regional countries (Belarus and Russia), several EU member states and places as far afield as Columbia and Tanzania!

REC led the Streetsmarts workshop, which ran three days from July 24-26. REC intern Attila Katona led proceedings by drawing on material out of Streetsmarts’ eight urban-challenge modules (e.g on social innovation, social exclusion, utilization of disused urban space and green transport systems). Each student participant was required to take 15 minutes presenting a case from their home countries on one of these challenges. Not surprisingly, several students spoke about urban problems common in the post-Soviet world, for example factory cities that were built to support industries that died following the collapse of the protected common market.

Students especially enjoyed a several hour creative workshop on day two – a game called Two Islands, which split participants into two teams, each vying to outdo the other in creating a sustainable, resilient society. The activity involved building 3-D models from creative materials, and then going through 14 case studies in the Streetsmarts teachers guide and suggesting solutions to the development challenges they posed.

Overall, participants gave positive reviews on the pace and structure of the event – but also gave constructive suggestions about how to clarify instructions and ensure better retention of lessons. The students gave a total of 20 pages of feedback on the workshop, which has been summarized and assimilated into the guide’s final draft.

With Streetsmarts’ content now finalized, it is now being designed and formatted into a website so that teachers the world over will be able to utilise it and incorporate it into their existing curricula.