How can we pass on climate change knowledge to young people in a way that they become responsible and empowered agents of change? According to the Brazilian writer, thinker and educationalist, Paulo Freire (1974) “responsibility cannot be acquired intellectually, but only through experience” (pp. 13). He advocates for an education that enables people to reflect on themselves, their responsibility and their role in society. Such education intends to develop a critical awareness (conscientização) and conscious action to transform the world.
Recently, 25 students of the António Arroio Art High School in Lisbon were engaged in an experiment with change: to choose a sustainable behavior (such as to eat less meat/be vegetarian, use pubic transportation, don´t use plastic water bottles, buy only national products) and adopt it for 30 days.
The 30 day experiment with change took place from the 12 January until 16 February 2018. During this period, the students reflected in regular posts on habits, social norms, structures, systems and values. They engaged in group dialogues sharing their difficulties and lessons learned and their relationships to the many facets of change. They learned that their experiment was more than just about behavioral change, or making a small reduction in the global carbon budget. Instead it was about understanding how change happens, and recognizing why people are the most powerful solution to climate change.
An exhibition about an experiment of collective change
What if we really changed? What does changing a habit imply for me and for those around me?
After completing the 30 days, each of the students developed an art project about their experience with change: a poster and a booklet. The posters and booklets were curated in an exhibition taking place between 8 and 19 May 2018.