QLE.20.027 – Scientists and school children assess environmental quality and transform society together

Route: Quality of the living environment

Cluster question: 065 What should education be like in the future?

The Global Biodiversity Outlook 5, presented in September 2020 by the UN Convention on Biological Diversity, calls for a shift away from “business as usual” across a range of human activities. It outlines eight transitions that recognize the value of biodiversity, the need to restore the ecosystems on which all human activity depends, and the urgency of reducing the negative impacts of such activity.
But how to speed up the transitions? Our answer: bring cooperation between scientists and school children in the assessment of environmental quality and the transformation of society to a next level. The dense network of schools in combination with the increasing availability of apps and sensors has the potential to dramatically enlarge and intensify the environmental monitoring and assessment of air quality, climate change and biodiversity. A closer cooperation between scientists and schools provides  opportunities to teach not only the knowledge on these challenging environmental problems but allows the training of skills that society needs to solve these wicked problems. These are skills like being able to deal with complexity, ambiguity, controversy and uncertainty but also being able to cooperate in multi-disciplinary, transdisciplinary, multi-cultural and international teams.
We build on the Global Learning and Observations to Benefit the Environment program (GLOBE). GLOBE is the largest international science and education program providing students and the public worldwide with the opportunity to participate in data collection and the scientific process, and contribute meaningfully to our understanding of the Earth system and global environment. In 25 years it grew to a global network involving over 30 thousand secondary schools in over 123 countries studies.
In the project we focus on both the intensification of the environmental monitoring and assessment as well as on the change in the scientific and educational systems required to bring cooperation to the next level.


Air quality, biodiversity, citizen science, climate change, Education, environment, local to global, Monitoring, skills, soil quality, transdisciplinarity, Transformation, water quality

Other organisations

KNMI, Leiden University (LEI), middelbare scholen, Rijksinstituut voor Volksgezondheid en Milieu (RIVM), Stichting GLOBE Nederland, STOWA, Utrecht University (UU)


Organisation Wageningen University (WUR)
Name Dr.ir. A.J.H. (Arnold) van Vliet
E-mail Arnold.vanvliet@wur.nl
Website www.esa.wur.nl