In 2011 UNESCO inaugurated a global online education programme for 16–18 year-old students to learn about sustainability issues and solutions. The Young Masters Programme (YMP) is a free global web-based education and learning network about sustainable development. The programme is open for secondary students and their teachers from all over the world.
Extensive on-line teaching material gives the students a thorough understanding of sustainability issues and preventive environmental strategies. The students can also put their knowledge into practical use by starting sustainability projects in their local community.
The course material is in English with built-in glossaries and narrations. Close cooperation with scholars at Lund University, in Sweden, ensures that the content is up to date and in line with recent scientific findings. Challenging assignments inspire students and enhance their interest in the studies.
YMP was first initiated by the International Institute for Industrial Environmental Economics (IIIEE), at Lund University in 1999 and has since catered to more than 20 000 students from over 110 countries.
The internet is not only used to distribute the course, but to create virtual classrooms where teachers and students from all corners of the world are brought together to compare and discuss their results, share experiences and knowledge, and to receive and give feedback on their assignments. In the on-line community, students learn from each other by sharing first-hand information with their peers in different countries. They also gain an understanding of common sustainability challenges
and different local perspectives and solutions. Together, students and teachers learn in a interactive way that textbooks do not allow.
Examples of past YMP work includes a group of students from China’s Gezhi High School who have found a way to harness the energy generated by exercise equipment in parks and residential areas. The group used a generator that can save the energy in a battery pack which can then be used to power LED lights. According to UNESCO, the clean energy produced entails an estimated reduction of carbon dioxide by 66 kg per year for each piece of exercise equipment.
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