An ongoing project: “ECoNNECT”
The “ECoNNECT” project (European Collaboration Network for Nature Education and Citizenship Training) is supported by the EU Erasmus+ program (Axis: Cooperative Partnerships in Adult Education) for a period of three years, starting in September 2022.
The project, which brings together partners from three European countries, France, Belgium and Greece, aims to help strengthening nature education and the professionalization of nature educators, through the creation of an innovative training course, adapted to the environmental, institutional and socio-economic context of partner countries.
Nature education forms an integral part of environmental education, however it emphasizes experiences ‘along with’ and ‘within’ the natural environment. As an educational process through a contact with nature (through observation, immersion…), it is based on first-hand experience, using multiple and complementary approaches (cognitive, sensory, emotional, etc.), which highlights the need for the respect of natural balances. For us, partners in this project, nature education, just like environmental education as a whole, is an education in eco-citizenship and for social justice.
The training we want to develop aims to help stimulate, restore and strengthen a deep, healthy and respectful link with nature, through the study of global issues and challenges (climate, biodiversity, etc.) and their impact in each territory, in the form of socially vivid questions.
The training course will be developed through a participatory approach, which will involve the project’s target group: nature educators (teachers, trainers, facilitators), professionals, or undergoing training (students in disciplines related to the environment and education). A preliminary inventory of existing educational resources will be followed by a seminar aiming the exchange of experiences, practices, tools and methods, bringing together nature education practitioners from partner countries. The participants, under the coordination of the project’s pedagogical team, will work on the definition of the training course, by the choice of tools and methods and their scheduling. This course will consist of a common core and training ‘chapters’ (modules) comprising a choice of educational resources, adaptable to the training systems and the institutional and territorial context in which the training will take place.
The participants will be encouraged to experiment in their country and to evaluate the training course that they will have helped to develop. A second seminar, the following year, bringing together the same participants, will allow the sharing of the results on the evaluation of educational resources, and will lead to the adaptation and refinement of the training course. The final product will then be integrated into the project’s portal and will be available for online free access by educators in Europe.
The participatory approach of a ‘co-construction’ adopted during the seminars constitutes, in itself, a training process for the participants, as well as the exchange of the experiences is a form of a peer-to-peer education process, and therefore a contribution to the professionalization of the educators who will have participated.
The project as a whole will allow the setting up of a European network of educators and trainers involved in nature education, thus contributing to the institutional recognition of nature education at a European level.
Organizations participating in the ‘ECoNNECT’ project:
Réseau français d’éducation à la nature et à l’environnement, le FRENE (formerly ‘Nature and Education’ network – Project Coordinator), France