The SYNAPSES consortium consists of 10 carefully selected organisations from 7 European countries, representing a wide coverage of Europe’s regions and cultures. Each of the consortium partners brings to SYNAPSES their highly respected status in their fields, strong relevant expertise in teacher training and/or environmental education and very rich prior EU project experience. Their added-value synergy as a pan-European team makes them the strongest assets of the project, ensuring the fulfilment of the project objectives and the ideal conditions for generating a very significant impact in the world of environmental education and teacher training.
The scientific profile of the University of Bayreuth (UBT) is characterized by interdisciplinarity, individuality, innovation and internationality. Teaching and research at the intersection of disciplines, as well as traditional and modern degree programmes in the humanities and social sciences, in law and economics, in the natural and engineering sciences lead to generally recognized degrees including the doctoral degree. The UBT enjoys partnerships with over 40 universities and research institutions across the globe and is particularly active in European mobility programmes. The specific Centre of Math & Science Education (Z-MNU) provides the school-relevant training scenario for pre-service teachers and is the focal point for frequent teacher enhancement courses. There are approximately 15.000 students on the campus, about a quarter of whom complete pre-service teacher study programs within three subjects: Two major scientific subjects as well as Pedagogy/Psychology. The courses also include structural teaching programs. Furthermore, in-service teacher training courses are offered for qualified teachers. The STEM pre-service teacher education is concentrated in the Z-MNU, an institution founded to optimize especially the education and enhancement of teacher training. Within all 10 Bavarian universities, the Z-MNU is the only institution of this specification. UBT under the coordination of Prof. Bogner has worked for many years in various EU-projects in the field of Science Education and will contribute to the success of the project with his specific expertise in the fields of inquiry-based science education, informal learning environment professional development and e-learning programs. Prof. F. Bogner and his research group in many projects funded by the EU as project partner, Prof. Bogner coordinated the large-scale PATHWAY-project (2011-2013) with 25 partners, which succeeded to train over 10.000 science teachers all over Europe and was selected as a “Best Practice” by the European Commission. Furthermore, he coordinated successfully both H2020 projects CREATIONs (with 16 partner institutions) and STORIES of TOMORROW (with 15 partners).
EA is one of the most innovative schools in Europe. It has 2500 students (ages 5 to 18 years old) and 250 teachers in different disciplines. EA has a very strong vision-generated interest and rich research and development activity in the fields of Inquiry Based Science Education (IBSE), Project Based Learning (PBL), and STEM education in combination with digital, online based learning environments and tools that use virtual reality, augmented reality and story-based education. EA is continuously modernizing STEM education by promoting and creating user-driven learning environments for students and offering numerous opportunities for teachers’ professional development to be prepared and thrive in the landscape of unprecedented challenges and opportunities in the 21st century. Under this approach, EA has taken up the challenge to embed innovative pedagogical practice that effectively uses a range of ICTs in STEM classrooms, as well as driving up student academic outcomes across the school. Moreover, a large range of previous projects were focused on developing and implementing technological tools which leverage both digital science repositories and IBSE/PBL learning. As part of this, EA has developed numerous scenarios for STEM education in which participators live their learning experience in every place. Established in 1995, the Research and Development Department of EA is guiding the introduction of innovation in the school setting. The R&D Department acts as an interface between the pedagogical research, the technological innovation and the school community. It focuses on the design, implementation and support of pedagogical and technological innovation in educational practice, both through internal research as well as through collaborations with numerous educational, research and commercial institutions. EA is a founding member of the European School Innovation Academy (ESIA – https://esia.ea.gr/), which is promoting a European standard-based IBSE competence framework that will facilitate the professional development of school heads and teachers in applying and implementing IBSE, as well as supporting the creation of a European community of practice among science teachers to modernize science education. Overall, EA has a very strong and proven experience in actively extending the dialogue between scientific and the educational community, enforcing the collaboration between schools and research organizations, centers and museums, and helping young people to acquire better understanding of the role of science in the society. In this framework coordinates large scale policy experimentation actions like the Reflecting for Change Initiative (https://reflecting4change.eu/) and Coordination Actions like the Open Schools for Open Societies (https://www.openschools.eu/) that are introducing the concept of openschooling to numerous schools in Europe and in the USA. EA is a Certified Centre for Teachers’ Continuing Professional Development since 2002 (Center Code: 4 – 626 4230_01, 08/02/2002). The Center includes two labs for Physics, Chemistry and Biology, a computer room (capacity of 30 people), a FabLab (introducing teachers to 3D design), two conference halls (capacity of 50 people) and an observatory that is hosting a robotic 16” RC telescope. Every year, EA offers courses on Technology Enhanced Science Education following the specifications and training curriculum outlined by the Ministry of Education. Teachers are trained in the introduction of new technologies in the science class effectively and integrate them seamlessly in the learning process. Teachers are also trained in the integration of inquiry-based approach in their practice.
IEP was established in 2011 under Public Law 3966 (Government Gazette Α’ 118/24-05-2011). It is a Public Entity under Private Law supervised by the Ministry of Education and Religious Affairs. According to Law 4547/2018 (Government Gazette 102/12-06-2018), the Institute operates five (5) Scientific Offices as follows:
- The Office of Cycle A Scientific Units is responsible for the pedagogical and teaching Methodology in primary and secondary education; it provides guidelines on special and inclusive education, educational innovation and intercultural education.
- The Office of Cycle B Scientific Units is responsible for issues related to the school subjects in preschool, primary and secondary education.
- The Teacher Training Office is responsible for planning, implementing and monitoring the national strategy for teacher training.
- The European and International Educational Policy Office is responsible for studying European and international education policy as well as networking IEP with relevant European and international Institutes.
- The Research and Assessment of educational work Office is responsible for educational assessment programs both national (Observatory of School Dropout) and international (e.g., PISA).
IEP operates for the benefit of public interest as an executive scientific body that supports the Ministry of Education and Religious Affairs on issues related to primary and secondary education as well as the transition from secondary to higher education. IEP is also responsible for the in-service teacher training, the formal curriculum development, the educational material as well as the assessment tools used at national level. IEP’s primary mission is the scientific research and study of issues related to all levels of education, the contribution to the design and implementation of educational policy issues and the implementation of ESF and ERDF co-funded projects in the framework of Partnership Agreement 2014-2020. IEP is currently leading the educational reform effort in Greece towards new curricula for all subjects and school levels (included VET). This reform aims at changing the philosophy of the Greek education system by going beyond the transmission of knowledge and promoting soft skills, life skills, science and technology-based skills that are necessary for participating successfully in the global knowledge economy and become. Autonomy, critical thinking, innovation and social awareness are the pillars of the new curricula that will be implemented together with a large scale, national teacher-training program.
NUCLIO is a non-profit association and an NGO for development created in 2001 that focuses on the implementation of innovation in education. NUCLIO team is composed of a group of science professionals, teachers and researchers as well as educators devoted to innovation in education, science education, psychology of education and science outreach. The work done by the team includes the promotion of active research as a tool for STEAM learning, the adoption of Interdisciplinary and Inquiry learning approaches, the adaptation of the Design Thinking method to the school environment and the privilege of the Universal Design for Learning (UDL) principles NUCLIO is an official training centre recognized by the Portuguese Ministry of Education. Our vision is to train and support educators and students by training teachers on the use of new technologies and innovative and inclusive student-centred methodologies; by integrating real and contemporary research opportunities in classroom where students are introduced to the scientific methods using robotic telescopes, data mining, and other advanced tools for science learning. To achieve this vision NUCLIO produces resources, trains and supports educators and provides online and onsite support for the implementation of innovative models for teaching and learning.
ECBA represents biology at an international level and is the European organisation concerned with current and future biology and has done so since 1975. It does so from a strategic viewpoint, in close association with its members. Additionally, it cooperates in matters at a national level although national issues remain the responsibility of national bodies. However, we strongly communicate the message that, given the capacity of the ECBA in terms of persons, time and money, the outcomes depend heavily on cooperation between the member bodies and not so much on activities of the ECBA organisation itself. ECBA successfully facilitates cooperation between countries and produces many booklets about current European biology in education, academia, professional fields. In 2020, the ECBA reregistered as a Dutch Society having offices at the Dutch Institute of Biology. Historically the ECBA has been in close contact with teachers and schools. In some countries the ECBA member organisation has a large impact on the educational landscape. For example, the NIBI has a regular contact with teachers at almost all schools.
ESHA, the European School Heads Association, is the leading network for European school leaders. Members of ESHA are national associations for school heads and deputy school heads within primary, secondary and vocational education. Nearly all European countries are represented within ESHA by one or more associations. The ESHA members represent 86,000 school leaders in Europe. The ESHA network is an international community in which experiences, visions and views between the members, research organizations, policy makers and teachers are exchanged and in which new ideas are born. The aim of ESHA is to research and disseminate good practices of innovation through the ESHA magazine (17600 subscribers), regional conferences, the ESHA website and the ESHA community portal. ESHA works closely together with the EC to improve the quality of school leaders and by doing so, improving the quality of European education as a whole. ESHA is a partner in several European projects related to 21st century skills, entrepreneurship, social innovation education, science education, quality management, integration and dropout prevention. ESHA is also the coordinator of the European Educational Policy Network.
Dublin City University has been ranked in two new league tables of the world’s young universities (less than 50 years old). For the second year running, DCU the only university on the island of Ireland to be featured in the QS Top 50 Under 50. DCU has been placed 40th in this showcase of next-generation, leading universities, all established since 1962. It has also been placed 86th among the top one hundred young universities in the Times Higher Education 100 under 50. The newly established DCU Institute of Education represents the largest body of expertise in education in Ireland. The institute delivers programmes in education and training, early childhood education and teacher education, providing graduates with the knowledge, understanding and skills needed to excel in a variety of educational contexts such as preschools, schools, vocational, adult and community settings. In establishing the Institute of Education, DCU has brought together Ireland’s leading colleges of education: the Church of Ireland College of Education, Mater Dei Institute of Education and St Patrick’s College, Drumcondra to create the country’s first university Faculty of Education. Located on DCU St Patrick’s campus, it is home to internationally recognised experts in teaching and learning who work closely with students in an innovative environment for 21st Century learning.in a variety of educational contexts such as preschools, schools, vocational, adult and community settings. The International Centre for Innovation and Workplace Learning (ICIWL) is a DCU Institute of Education Research centre that is fully engaged at the local, European and international level – https://www.dcu.ie/iciwl. DCU is actively developing its commitment to the furtherance of the sustainable development goals and already has considerable expertise in this regard. Bringing beneficial impact to individuals and communities is central to the DNA of Dublin City University. DCU’s aspiration is to be known as a University of Transformation and Impact that strives to deliver on the 17 UN Sustainable Development Goals. Dublin City University was invited to join the prestigious European university network, the European Consortium of Innovative Universities (ECIU). DCU is the only Irish university to be represented in this network of 11 European universities and three associate partners, from Australia, Mexico and Russia, all of whom share a common commitment to innovation and entrepreneurship. The vision of ECIU is to be a global leader in higher education through the collective expertise of the consortium, their dedication to enhancing the learning experience of students, and their focus on fostering economic and social development in the region.
Dublin West Education Centre (DWEC) is one of a network of twenty one Education Support Centres established under Section 37 of the Education Act 1998, Ireland to support the professional development of teachers in the Republic of Ireland. DWEC is responsible for the management of two major Ministry of Education (MOE), support services, The Professional Development Service for Teachers (PDST) and The National Induction Programme for Teachers (NIPT). The PDST incorporates the PDST Technology in Education Programme (PDST TiE/Digital & Green), which is responsible for the roll out and provision of Continuous Professional Development (CPD), evaluation and assessment of the MOE’s Digital and Green Strategy and the MOE’s Digital Learning Framework, which also incorporates all aspects of Sustainability Education and Green Agendas #SDG’s, to all schools nationwide. DWEC has the capacity to reach over 70,000 teachers, both at primary and post-primary level. Moreover DWEC is involved in the research and development of competency based-framework documents to assist and assess schools in their Digital and Green journeys in 21 Century teaching and Learning. DWEC is also to the fore in promoting excellence in Digital, Green and Environmental Education for sustainable development (ESD) in schools through its management of the Digital Schools Programme and the Digital Schools of Distinction Programme, (DSOD http://www.digitalschools.ie/ ). DWEC is indeed leading National initiatives in Creativity, Biodiversity, Digital and Green, ESD, Sustainability Citizenship and continuous professional development and eco- initiatives in schools in Ireland and further afield in West Africa and the USA (https://www.biomebioyou.eu/education-sustainable-development.html). DWEC was also the lead partner in the EU funded Digital Schools of Europe (DSOE http://www.digitalschoolseurope.eu/ ) project which saw the DSOD model replicated in schools throughout Europe. It is also the National coordinator of the European Schoolnet SCIENTIX4, STEM programme (SCIENTIX 4 http://www.scientix.eu/ ) and also of several Schools of Excellence Clusters in Digital, Green, Biodiversity , Sustainability and Creative initiatives.
Masaryk University (MU) in Brno is a large and prestigious Czech University, with nine faculties, over 32 thousand Bachelor, Master and PhD students and 7,500 graduates per year. It strongly supports international mobility (3 and a half thousand student and staff placements in 2019). The Department of Environmental Studies (DES, a part of the Faculty of Social Studies) emerged in 1998 and has since focused on the fields of human ecology and environmental humanities. Our 15 staff members teach and supervise BA, MA and PhD students. In our research, we have been using interdisciplinary approaches to probe the deeper causes of the environmental crisis and to assess possible pathways towards sustainable futures. Our Social Ecological Economics team has been expanding the concept of “the economy” to include a diversity of economic projects, with emphasis on the functioning of the social and solidarity economy. We are especially involved with grass-roots entities focused on local/organic food production and distribution, and have contributed to knowledge of their institutional structure, social metabolism, and social and economic characteristics. Our department itself also has the administrative and managerial expertise to support the tasks and procedures connected with the project. DES is accredited to teach one BA (since 2008), one MA (since 1998) and one PhD (since 1998) educational programme (Environmental studies) at the MU, involving approximately 200 students. Over the years, it has organised several summer schools for MA and BA students, as well as co-organising annual open space events on diverse economy issues integrating MU students and non-students. In the last 10 years, DES staff have successfully completed 7 EU-funded research projects.
Sigtunaskolan Humanistiska Läroverket or SSHL (https://sshl.se) is a boarding school in the municipality of Sigtuna, Sweden’s oldest town, which is part of Stockholm’s wider administrative district. It arose from the merger of two historic Swedish boarding schools in Sigtuna in 1980. These schools were Sigtunastiftelsens Humanistiska Läroverk, founded by bishop Manfred Björkquist and Sigtunaskolan, founded by theologian Harry Cullberg. Since then, the school has become the leading boarding school in Sweden, combining high academic standards with a wide range of recreational activities. SSHL is honoured to have on the list of memorable students, Prime Minister Olaf Palme, the current King of Sweden Carl XVI Gustaf, members of the Wallenberg family, scientists, writers, and many more. The school is administered by the Wallenberg Foundation (http://www.wallenberg.org/en) and the SigtunaStiftelsen Foundation (https://sigtunastiftelsen.se/en/). SSHL is a practice school that host training and related activities, focusing on sustainability and energy efficiency of the school buildings. The school is currently implementing conversion and energy improvement plans of the historical school buildings, in order to reduce energy consumption, which has the effect of reducing operating costs and reducing CO2 emissions