RCE Grand Rapids-2015

1. Project Title: 
Youth Virtual Conference on Sustainability - Update
2. Thematic area/s addressed by the project
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3. Project partner contact information : 
Grand Rapids Public Schools, City High Middle
Main Contact: 
Ryan Huppert, huppertr@grps.org
4. Project type
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5. Project description
Provide a short description of the project including strategies, regional challenges, aims and specific project activities.: 

A Regional Perspective on Sustainability Issues of Food, Water, and Energy

RCE Grand Rapids has organized and hosted 2 annual Virtual RCE Youth Conferences - empowering the world's next generation of leaders on regional and universal issues. The 3rd YVC focused on energy is scheduled for the Spring of 2016.

6 RCEs from 3 continents joined to equip youth with the tools to communicate, collaborate, on sustainability initiatives with a focus on sustainability systems. The virtual conference gave students the perspective and practice of a global dialogue to better understand the unique water, food, and energy dilemmas facing the regions of the world and in turn reveal and embrace the universal themes of sustainable evolution through dialogue, empathy, and collaboration. Innovation and problem-solving skills were applied in order to address these most complex issues.

The project platform, using online teaching tools such as Oovoo and Blackboard Collaborate, allows students to engage in a virtual classroom and conference experience. This platform provides peer to peer learning experiences and lasts beyond the conference to continue the conversations, invite more schools to participate and to expand on the learning. The virtual platform also significantly reduces the carbon footprint associated with connecting students and educators from countries and continents the world apart.

The following is an example of the charge given students for the first YVC on water:

The relationships between man and water and the impacts on society and the environment require the attention of science and education. This study should analyze those relations and consider sustainable solutions. Through analysis of the watershed and the complex relationships at play, the project seeks to better understand these processes and recommend action. The following are questions students are asked to consider in this study of sustainability and water.

What are existing impacts on the watershed and region with regard to the following lens: Ecologically, Societally, Economically, Culturally?

Where are the issues relative to your watershed? i.e. upstream, downstream, above or below

What are sources of these impacts on the watershed and region?

How could these issues be addressed? What are possible solutions? Large scale? Small scale?

Students are asked to summarize the findings of the study, taking into consideration the broader themes present in the process of sustainability such as systems thinking, diversification, collaboration, integration, resiliency, conservation, etc.

The first 2 YVCs have had acclaimed and significant success through real-time collaboration with students and educators from the following RCEs: Grand Rapids, Kerkrade, Medellin/Bogota, Lima, Curitiba, Saskatchewan, and Portland.

6. Project status
On Going
The 3rd Youth Virtual Conference is scheduled for the Spring of 2016.
8. Tagging