Story behind the course: Meet Golaleh Makrooni & Eero Ropo

November 16, 2021

A photography fan and a music aficionado share a passion for education. They partnered up to create the "Curriculum Development for Climate Change Education in Global South" UniPID course, which is also developed with a partner university from the Global South: Meet Golaleh Makrooni (GM) & Eero Ropo (ER)

"This course is hopefully a forum for this kind of complex conversation in which we develop our collective understanding of human learning and change" (Eero Ropo)

What is your professional background?

Eero Ropo
Eero Ropo

ER: I am professor of education, specializing in teacher education and learning research. Most recent research interests have focused on curriculum research and narrativity in learning and identity construction. I have worked in primary and secondary teacher education, and the last 10 years in international teacher education programs.

GM: I did my bachelor in civil engineering and after that I started working in vocational school in Iran. Teaching made me interested in the education fields and I got M.A in history and philosophy of education. Right now I am a PhD student at Tampere University in Finland. During my PhD study I also studied successfully the professional teacher education program in Tampere University of Applied Sciences.

Why do you teach this course?

ER: My concern is that traditional thinking concerning school education (knowledge, skills, and attitudes) seems to be very limited in changing our ways of behavior concerning environment. I want to enhance our theoretical understanding why individual and collective behaviors are hard to change although we may know how harmful our behavior is for the nature. I prefer using the concept of narrative in describing how we think about the environment. Little by little we hopefully create understanding on the conditions of change. I believe that developing curricular thinking is very important in making school education more effective in repositioning us concerning environmental behavior.

GM: To me climate change education should be understood and reflected both locally and globally. Climate change education is part of the important issue of how humans position themselves towards and use the environment. Climate change as a very complex issue should be considered in the curriculum to reflect the local and global level. On the one hand, Climate Change Education (CCE) in the Global South opens eyes not only to the various existing problems, but also to the existing resources and the existing large body of local knowledge. On the other hand, CCE opens a new window for people looking at climate change from the perspective of the Global North and offers them the opportunity to reposition themselves to better use their knowledge in this context locally and globally. Therefore, looking at education and curriculum could provide a context for repositioning educators and educational designers to develop curricula in ways that are more accessible, applicable, and effective when these issues are viewed and taught from very different perspectives. Thus, I find that this course could be a step towards bringing these two perspectives together.

Why should students take the course?

"This course can help students who work or want to work in the field of education or as educational designers to better understand the complexity of climate change, to find one's own position and to take into account this complexity on a local and global level in their curricula and teaching" (Golaleh Makrooni)

Golaleh Makrooni
Golaleh Makrooni

ER: We are educators and are developing education for all. It is necessary to understand the climate change as an educationally important phenomenon. Consequently, we should begin and continue the complex conversation related to the process of developing a curriculum. This course is hopefully a forum for this kind of complex conversation in which we develop our collective understanding of human learning and change.

GM: This course provides an opportunity to understand and discuss an important issue from a multidisciplinary perspective by expanding and repositioning knowledge. Scientific facts and knowledge are necessary to become aware of climate change and related issues, but they are not strong enough to make people behave and act responsibly unless their daily life experiences and education are also taken into account. Educators and teachers at different levels of education therefore play a crucial role in providing expertise, and in constructively influencing students' personal development and how to position themselves locally and globally in this very complex issue. This course can help students who work or want to work in the field of education or as educational designers to better understand the complexity of climate change, to find one's own position and to take into account this complexity on a local and global level in their curricula and teaching.

What do you do in your free time? Hobbies/Interests?

ER: My long-time hobby is music. I am currently singing in two choirs. I am also a glider pilot and flight instructor 21 years. Gliders are flying with solar energy and other types of planes are also developing fast towards environmentally friendly energy sources such as electricity.

GM: I am inserted in photography, painting, and gardening.

What inspires you?

Eero: As researcher we are always struggling on the edge of knowing and not-knowing. It inspires a lot if you find a solution and a new understanding of something that bothers you or has bothered you for a long time. To put it briefly, learning inspires enormously.

GM: The nature surrounding me always inspires me and makes me thoughtful and relaxed. Positive and constructive feedback from others also always inspires me.

How do you update yourself in your field/ how do you update your course?

ER: Like Golaleh says below, by reading and discourses with others. It has been really fruitful to discuss with colleagues all over the world to understand better, how people live as part of nature and understand the environment around them.

GM: By following new resources and academic works from experts around the world. Inviting and contacting educators and researchers working in various fields on this topic. This results in very important and stimulating conversations and leads to new interesting sources.

What kind of content do you consume?

ER: I am interested in keeping myself updated about the research topics concerning identity, narrativity and curriculum, but also am interested in history, particularly how and why people live in different cultures how they do.

GM: Mostly I am reading articles related to my study and work, but also watching instructional YouTube videos for improving my Finnish language.

Can you recommend podcasts, literature, movies etc. that discusses the themes of your course?

ER: I have a special relationship to Indonesia since being the head of a master’s degree program in Aceh in 2015-17. Currently, we have a joint project with Indonesia University of Education in Bandung concerning the curriculum development for climate change education. I am reading a book Parker, L., & Prabawa-Sear, K. (2019). Environmental Education in Indonesia: Creating Responsible Citizens in the Global South?. Routledge. This book is very good in giving an overview of the situation in Indonesia.

GM: I enjoyed watching the YouTube video from Dr Susan Roaf: 'The Amazing Windcatchers of Yazd” which describes one ancient architectural sustainable system that has been used in utilizing the natural energy from the specific regions for ventilation. This video not only shows that amazing adaptation to the climate but also shows the values which can be reflected in CCE.

Anything else to add?

ER: I do hope that this kind of globally shared and available courses will continue in future. These are important in understanding each other’s different cultural and historical development and ways of thinking.

GM: I hope everyone enjoys the course and can apply it into own life and work.

Photo credits: Kelly Sikkema, 2017 on Unsplash