Overview

‘Liveable Cities of the Future’ Project Week

How can we design and develop liveable cities for the future? This question will be explored during a week-long interdisciplinary learning experience at RBC. With regular classes suspended and through workshops, excursions, films, discussions and hands-on creative work, students and teachers will get a better idea of how cities work – and what’s needed to make them more sustainable.

Background – how (and why) G4 week morphed into “Liveable Cities of the Future Week”
Motivation: Giving space to sustainability

Our school was established with a “special focus” on sustainability in a city (the “green city” Freiburg) known for its many sustainability projects and initiatives.
But we found it challenging to do justice within the normal classroom teaching framework – excursions into the city are logistically challenging to fit into a 90 minute class timeslot, and many of the topics we feel our students should learn more about are barely touched on in IB syllabi, especially for students not taking Environmental Systems and Societies.

The past: Making the most of the Group 4 project

This is why from the beginning we had identified the IB Group 4 Project as an opportunity to spend more time on these topics and also find time for excursions to external partners. We decided to allocate a whole week for Y1 students working on this, allowing for an input phase with workshops and excursions and a project phase where students work in interdisciplinary teams (see details below). The week is scheduled during the time period when our Y2 students write their Mock Exams as for logistical reasons it is challenging to run normal Y1 classes during that period at our school, and we also schedule a large proportion of the Y1 IA lab/data collection work for that week, reducing the need for staff and students to do this lab work after classes (often in the evening).

The present: Truly interdisciplinary work beyond G4

The project started with an exclusive focus on natural science, in particular topics around renewable energy and waste disposal. However, feedback from students who wanted a more holistic perspective as well as the desire to get all staff equally involved (not just G4 teachers) led to the “Liveable Cities of the Future” (LCFW) format that combines sustainability (in all dimensions) and human wellbeing, allowing for an interdisciplinary perspective that goes well beyond just the natural sciences (but still fulfils the G4 project requirements).

Implementation
Staff preparation phase

One or two months before the week, we ask staff at our school what contributions they would like to make to the week. Contributions could be offering a workshop, planning or accompanying an excursion (which involves liaising with external partners) or helping logistically, e.g. by supporting students during their project work phase. Also, G4 teachers and laboratory staff plan which students will carry out what data collection experiments during the week, and when they will do it.

Student preparation session

A few days before the start of the week, students are organized in groups of six, given a general introduction to the week, assigned their “project city” – a mid-sized city somewhere on the planet, for which they are expected to develop a more “liveable” vision for the year 2050.
During the same session, students are also asked to sign up for workshops and excursions, keeping in mind their IA data collection time slots and making sure that within their group they have a balanced portfolio of workshops and excursions that matches the needs of their assigned city.

Workshop- & excursion-phase

During the first days of the week, students have half-days (3h) for excursions, and half-days that combine a short impulse presentation (with a topic like “Designing cities for climate and biodiversity“) with a team work phase (a period in which students work in their teams developing a positive vision for their city, guided by prompts and questions in a OneNote document that relate to the topic of the impulse presentation before the students go into heir chosen workshops, as shown in the calendar below (note: in 2024, we had a total of four days for the workshops- and excursions-phase, but obviously this can be adapted to limitations and requirements).

The UWC RBC Liveable Cities of the Future Week timetable/structure for 2024

The UWC RBC Liveable Cities of the Future Week timetable/structure for 2024

Project phase
UWC RBC Liveable Cities of the Future Week 2024 - students building final project

UWC RBC Liveable Cities of the Future Week 2024 – students building final project

After several days of workshops, excursions and team work, the teams are then given a full day to work on a project that expresses their positive future vision for their city creatively, e.g. in the form of a physical model or a video.

The week closes with a half-day of students presenting their projects to each other, electing winning projects, reflecting on learning outcomes (including writing the G4 project statements) and giving feedback.

Tools used

We used Microsoft OneNote to build a central document which contained all relevant information for the week (instructions for students, instructions for staff supervising students, background materials, descriptions of modules). There are also sections for each student team where they can directly input their results (e.g. answers to research questions, documentation of their final project) during the course of the week.

Example results
Team 5: Debrecen, Hungary

UWC RBC Liveable Cities of the Future Week 2024 - physical model Group 5 Debrecen, Hungary

Group 5 had been assigned the city of Debrecen in Hungary.

They had built a physical model of their vision of the city in 2050.

 

Team 9: Nakuru, Kenya

Group 14 had been assigned the city of Nakuru in Kenya.

They had produced a video describing their vision for Nakuru in 2050.

 

 

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UWC RBC Liveable Cities of the Future Week 2024 - physical model Group 5 Debrecen, Hungary

UWC RBC Liveable Cities of the Future Week 2024 – physical model Group 5 Debrecen, Hungary

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