Utopian Stories: let your students be co-researchers!

Utopian Stories is a large citizen science project in which school classes are invited to collaborate with research scientists to study the changes we are preparing to make for a sustainable future.

2020 was an unusual year for many of us. In order to protect one another from the coronavirus, we’ve refrained from doing many of the things we’re used to doing. But even greater changes are needed to put the breaks on climate change. We need to stop what we’re doing and ask ourselves what kind of future we want to have, but at the same time we need to move forward as quickly as possible with the process of adapting to climate change.

Utopian Stories links together the behavioural changes we made during the pandemic with climate change adaptation and our visions for the future. Students become co-researchers who collaborate with climate scientists, literary scholars, future researchers and educators. Teachers will gain valuable input for their classes, focusing on the scientific method, working with literature, and the global sustainability goals – all while providing researchers with important data collected by their students.

Throughout the spring of 2021, the project will be conducted entirely online. When it is once again possible for us all to meet, there will be several opportunities to take part in person. All of the activities will continue to be available online to make it possible to participate from anywhere.

Utopian Stories is rooted in the pandemic and the climate crisis, but it takes aim at a brighter future – maybe by seizing on the power of imagining a utopia! Does this sound interesting? Read more and register yourself and your classes.

Please join us!

What does the project mean for me as a teacher?

In Utopian Stories, you and your students can contribute to important research while you gain valuable input from scientists and other experts on the front lines of climate research, literary criticism, humanities, future research and education.

As a teacher, you’ll get access to:

  • Student assignments in the form of two questionnaires for students to use to collect data through interviews for real research;
  • Visualisation of the results of the students’ data collection related to climate impacts;
  • Lectures by researchers in literary criticism, climate science and future research intended specifically for students in this programme;
  • Continuing education for teachers led by Nobel Laureates, researchers and experts;
  • Teaching recommendations and materials for instruction in Swedish and English that work for many different subjects in lower secondary and upper secondary school.

Teachers can choose which parts of the project they want to participate in. The project will touch on subjects in areas such as literature and language studies, the natural sciences, social sciences and aesthetics. We will be live streaming school programmes directly to students and online seminars for teachers with opportunities for discussion with the researchers. All the materials will be available in English, and the data, questionnaires, videos, results and more will be collected at nobelprizemuseum.se/utopianstories.

How does it start?

The project starts in August 2021 with two online data collections.

Questionnaire 1 is called What Didn’t You Do in 2020? and is about what people refrained from doing during the pandemic and how that made them feel.

Questionnaire 2 is called Share Your Future! and is a collection of stories about the future that also includes a semi-structured writing assignment. You can choose the extent to which your classes work with either or both questionnaires.

To start, your students will answer the questionnaire themselves. Then the students become co-researchers assigned to interview four people each in various age groups. A simple description of the students’ assignment may be found on the website. There are also short videos featuring researchers Alasdair Skelton and Camilla Brudin Borg intended specifically for students in the programme.

The preliminary schedule on the website will be filled out over time, but you can already get started with the questionnaires now.

The researchers will be studying and visualising the positive climate impacts of different kinds of adaptations – the changes we’ve made during the pandemic, but also potential futures that are imagined in various stories of the future. You will receive those materials and much more later on in the project. The project will be filled out during 2021–23 to offer even more activities for teachers and students.

Who is responsible for this project?

The Nobel Prize Museum together with researchers from the University of Gothenburg, the Bolin Centre for Climate Research at Stockholm University, the Royal Institute of Technology, the University of Turku and the University of Helsinki.

Contacts

Vice President of Education Annika Hedås Falk at the Nobel Prize Museum in Stockholm will be coordinating the activities for schools, such as only school programmes, teacher’s guides and continuing education and networks for teachers.
annika.hedas-falk@nobelprize.org

Literature researcher Camilla Brudin Borg from the University of Gothenburg will analyse the many collected stories of the future and summarise the various potential future worlds they envision.
camilla.brudin.borg@lir.gu.se

Professor Alasdair Skelton of the Bolin Centre for Climate Research at Stockholm University will be studying and visualising the positive climate impacts of different kinds of adaptations – the changes we’ve made during the pandemic, but also potential futures that are imagined in various stories of the future.
alasdair.skelton@geo.su.se

The project group also includes:

Marianne Loor, Communications Manager in the Research Support Office at KTH (the Royal Institute of Technology)

Katriina Siivonen, University Lecturer and Deputy Director of the Finland Futures Research Centre at the University of Turku in Finland.

Hannu Salmi, Professor of Education and Research Director in the Department of Education at the University of Helsinki

Janne Wikström, Project Manager at Hanaholmen Hana Academy, an educational and research political collaboration between Sweden and Finland

Laila Islamovic, Scientific Communicator at the Bolin Centre for Climate Research at Stockholm University

Additional collaborative partners:

Utopian Stories will bring together researchers, experts, hundreds of teachers and thousands of students from Sweden, Finland and other countries around the world. Within the framework for the project, you’ll also meet Nobel Laureates, researchers, poets and many other interesting people through our live-streamed teacher’s seminars and online school programmes.

So why should you join us?

The coronavirus pandemic shows that we people are prepared to make great changes when we have a sense of urgency.

This is your chance to let your students take part in an interdisciplinary project with a topical theme that is urgently important. We’re now collecting facts and stories about how we’ve all experienced the changes brought on by the pandemic, but also stories about optimistic future scenarios, perhaps even utopias. How do we conceive of a future that is good for both people and planet? What changes are we dreaming about? What is important to preserve or develop in a sustainable future? Can we imagine futures beyond the limitations that prevail today?

Join us for Utopian Stories!