Open Education or How to Empower Citizens to Contribute to the Energy Transition
Date: October 23rd 2019
Author: Mojca Drevenšek
Citizens have a central role in the energy transition. These words are often spoken by decision makers, policy makers, and energy industry representatives. However, does this really apply to all citizens – also to those who do not know where the energy for their daily needs comes from, how much of it is used and for which purposes, and who is paid to provide it? What about the citizens who are not even interested in this? Are they also the central actors in the transition to a low-carbon future? Can a citizen really have a central role in such an important process merely because they are an adult or have the right to vote? An energy literate citizen is a citizen who can make informed decisions regarding energy issues (sources, use, policies etc.), which also requires them to understand the effects and consequences of their decisions. It is reasonable to expect that an efficient energy transition will require citizens to exhibit at least basic energy literacy and energy ambition.Imagine:
- A global educational and awareness-raising platform focusing on energy and the energy sector, combining the essential know-how in the field of natural science, technology, engineering and social science, relevant to energy-conscious citizens who act as energy prosumers/storers and voters, to the younger generation of pupils and students, their professors and mentors, the media, the experts, the policy makers, and the decision makers;
- A digital platform that aims to offer open education using this know-how, supporting responsible and accountable energy-related decision-making at home and at work, in local communities, on the state level and globally;
- An advanced AI-supported digital library which offers visitors specially tailored and freely accessible Open Educational Resources (OER) – texts, images, videos, and other online resources, which they can use, process, and then return to be freely accessed by others;
- That such a project is carried out with the cooperation of educational, professional, industry, regulatory, and other organisations striving for open education with the aim of enhancing energy literacy around the world, initiated by Slovenian know-how and ambition.
The Open Education for a Better World (OE4BW) global mentoring programme call, which was recently launched for the third consecutive year by the UNESCO Chair on Open Technologies for OER and Open Learning at Slovenia’s Jožef Štefan Institute (JSI) and the University of Nova Gorica, provides opportunities for the realisation of such a project. This year’s new addition is a special hub (SDG7) focusing on goal 7 (affordable and clean energy) of the 17 sustainable development goals.
Photo 1: Developers are invited to send their applications for the international Open Education for a Better World 2019/20 call by 15 November, whereas mentors can do so by 2 December 2019. Do not forget this year’s new addition – the SDG7 hub focusing on energy and the energy sector.
Slovenia’s iEnergy joins other international projects for a better society
In the past two years, the successful global mentoring programme OE4BW, which invites OER developers and mentors from all around the world to join it, has been part of 49 projects, working with 116 OER developers and mentors from 25 countries and 5 continents. EN-LITE is proud to say that iEnergy, a project aimed at increasing energy literacy, which it launched in Slovenia in early 2018, has been able to join them.
The concept for the development of a global iEnergy platform was introduced to the international open education environment with the aim of testing to what extent and in what way the need for open energy education is recognised at the wider European and global level. Upon the conclusion of the mentoring period, EN-LITE held a multi-stakeholder panel discussion Energy, Society and Open Education, which was held in July in Vipava, Slovenia, as part of the Open Education Design Workshop (in the framework of the International Workshop of Open Education).
The response spoke volumes. The event featured many speakers and discussion participants, joining either in person or remotely, including representatives of the European Commission, the European Parliament, the World Health Organisation (WHO), the Slovenian National Commission for UNESCO, the UNESCO Chair for OER at JSI, the European Youth Parliament, the U.S. Department of Energy, the Slovenian Ministry of Infrastructure, the Chamber of Commerce and Industry of Slovenia, EIT InnoEnergy, EDSO for Smart Grids, Universities of Oxford, Amsterdam, Ljubljana, Maribor, and Nova Gorica, the UK National Union of Students, the United Nations Association of Slovenia, RRA LUR, CER, and of course the main supporters and partners of the EN-LITE energy literacy project: Slovenia’s electricity TSO ELES, the energy company GEN, and the country’s gas TSO Plinovodi, along with many other parties ready and willing to contribute their material, know-how, services, and views in relation to the emerging global knowledge platform.
As expected, the discussion participants gave differing opinions on the significance of education and awareness-raising, however, their comments had a clear common denominator: the conclusion that a socially, economically, and technologically balanced transition to a low-carbon energy sector and society calls for energy-conscious citizens, especially when it comes to the younger generation, as the development of the energy sector is seen as a sort of marathon. We need to provide quality formal and informal education, which is connected in a multi-disciplinary way, freely accessible, suited to the modern channels related to the new generation of digital learning and with clear insight into the local and global dimensions of the issues of future energy supply and the related effects on the quality of life of all the inhabitants of this blue planet.
The lengthy but constructive and dynamic discussion lasted over 3 hours. A video is available at the VideoLectures.NET repository and on the cooperation platform of the University of Nova Gorica, powered by MediaInteractive (contact EN-LITE and we will be happy to invite you to the Energy, Society and Open Education virtual cooperation room).
NECP drafting offers opportunity to enhance energy and climate literacy
The OE4BW call, which includes the new SDG7 hub, offers interested parties the opportunity to participate in the global energy education community. On the EU level, the current drafting and approaching implementation of the national energy and climate plans (NECPs) is seen as the perfect moment for this. What we need is a comprehensive, collaborative, and open energy education which is able to connect the challenges of achieving a low-carbon energy supply with economic opportunities and limitations while respecting the laws of physics, the available and emerging energy infrastructure, and the anticipated well-being of the citizens.
As part of the public consultation process in Slovenia, EN-LITE presented those responsible for drafting the NECP and its attachments with a formal initiative to include the need to increase the citizens’ energy and climate literacy in the strategic action documents. At the recent Open Education Policy Forum, which took place in Warsaw in October, we also discussed how to clearly incorporate such orientations into energy and climate policies at the European level.
Photo 3: With the iEnergy digital education platform project, which it launched in Slovenia in 2018, EN-LITE joined the Open Education for a better World 2018/19 mentoring programme. Montel Energetika.NET is iEnergy’s media partner.
What comes next? EN-LITE invites the global energy education community to participate
The Vipava event in July marked the beginning of the creation of a global open education community to support sustainable development goal no. 7 (ensuring affordable and clean energy) whereas the OE4BW mentoring programme call now offers the opportunity to achieve the envisaged goals.
EN-LITE would therefore like to invite any participants that are able to offer energy-related OER or mentor know-how that could help develop, use, and promote these resources, to make them attractive and accessible (especially to the younger generation), and who can help assess their quality or incorporate the open education policy elements into the energy and climate policy. Apply here and make your own tailored contribution to a low-carbon world.
Mojca Drevenšek, EN-LITE Society for Strengthening Energy Literacy and Consensus Communications
The opinions expressed by the author do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Energetika.NET.
This article is available also in Slovene.