FAQ – häufig gestellte Fragen

[FAQs demnächst auf Deutsch!]

The following are some Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) we have had regarding the project Choose Your Own Sustainability Adventure. If you don’t find an answer to your question here, don’t hesitate to write us at: sustainability.adventure@forum-via.org

  1. What exactly is the objective – or the objectives – of the project?
  2. Why do the ViA Ambassadors try to travel without flying on the Sustainability Adventure?
  3. How is the project financed?
  4. Do the schools or students pay to participate?
  5. How do you select the partner classes?
  6. How many partner classes can participate at any one time?
  7. How many hours per week do partner classes invest in the project?
  8. How often do partner classes get a new ‚Challenge‘?
  9. How often do the ViA Ambassadors communicate with the partner classes?
  10. What exactly are the benefits and obligations of being a Partner School?
  11. What exactly are the benefits and obligations of being an Associated School?
  12. I am a teacher and would like to become an Associated School and learn more about the project and how my class/school can get involved – how do I go about doing this?
  13. Are the ViA Ambassadors paid for their work?
  14. How do the ViA Ambassadors pay for their trip expenses?
  15. Can I become a ViA Ambassador (and adopt a school class for my next journey)?
  16. Can I help with anything to support the work of Forum ViA?

What exactly is the objective – or the objectives – of the project?
The project aims to promote the long-term and interactive implementation of “Education for Sustainable Development” (ESD) and Global Learning (GL) in schools. The main objectives are to:

  • Raise awareness among youth about environmental, social and economic challenges in their local communities and around the world
  • Introduce youth to inspiring initiatives and people locally and globally who are working to overcome these challenges
  • Empower youth and to help them develop their critical thinking skills so that they can find their own solutions and ways to take action

Why do the ViA Ambassadors try to travel without flying on the Sustainability Adventure?
Flying in an airplane contributes significantly to increasing greenhouse gases in the atmosphere (and thus to climate change). For this reason, while we don’t boycott flying completely in our personal lives, we try to minimize the times we do fly. By not flying during the Sustainability Adventure we hope to highlight some of the benefits of not flying (beyond reducing emissions): e.g. that other forms of transportation get you from point A to point B ‚just as well‘ (and sometimes better!); that they can be fun; that decelerated travel is a great way to experience the world more intensely, rather than just checking cities off of a list; …the list goes on! It also forces us to be more creative in our travel planning and potentially go places that we otherwise might have skipped. Of course if there’s an emergency or something else happens that makes other options unrealistic, then we’ll fly.

How is the project financed?
We applied for and received funding from the Austrian Federal Ministry of Education and Women’s Affairs for the design and first steps in the development of the project website (www.sustainability-adventure.org). The outdoor clothing company Patagonia Inc. also kindly donated clothing to outfit the ViA Ambassadors for the Sustainability Adventure. Beyond these things, all other project costs have been covered through our private savings. We believe in the project and saved money in order to be able to carry out a pilot “testing and development” phase of the project. This is a two-year phase, currently ongoing (09/2013 – 09/2015). Through our savings and the support of volunteers, we have been able to keep the costs relatively low. In the future our goal is to secure funding through grants and/or cooperation with other organizations as well as additional funding sources to ensure the financial sustainability of the project.

Do the schools or students pay to participate?
No. We believe that education should be free and it is important to us that schools and students – regardless of their financial situation – can take part in the project without additional costs.

How do you select the partner classes?
For the first year we published a call for interested teachers and their classes in Austria. We are also connected with a couple networks of schools involved in ‚education for sustainable development‘, which was a good source for finding engaged schools. We have also approached schools directly to inquire about potential interest. Between calls for interested schools, using our networks and approaching schools directly, we have been lucky to have some great teachers get on board with their classes and we are always happy to find more classes interested in participating!

How many partner classes can participate at any one time?
During the first year (2013/2014) we had three partner classes. In our experience, working with 2-4 partner classes ensures that communication between the ViA Ambassadors and their partner classes can take place regularly, particularly in countries where there is not always an internet connection, or if there is internet, it’s not always the most reliable. In terms of the relationship between the ViA Ambassadors and their partner classes, we prefer quality over quantity! To allow for the participation of greater numbers of schools and classes we currently have two strategies:

  1. You can become an “Associated School” (click here to find out more)
  2. You can sign up for being a future Partner School for when we have the platform ready to include more travelers who can adopt school classes

How many hours per week do partner classes invest in the project?
Following the first year of the project we passed out questionnaires to participating students in Austria. The results showed that students spent 1-2 hours per week working on the project. This can vary, depending on the complexity of the current challenge and the needs and/or time constraints of the teachers.

How often do partner classes get a new ‚Challenge‘?
The partner classes get a new ‚Challenge‘ every 1-2 months. This depends on the school schedule (holidays, seasonal breaks, etc.) and the present circumstances of the ViA Ambassadors (e.g. available internet connection, etc.).

How often do the ViA Ambassadors communicate with the partner classes?
The ViA Ambassadors communicate with their partner teachers every 1-2 weeks via email, skype, etc. The communication with the classes themselves is 1-2 times per month, usually via a video message. The ViA Ambassadors also met all three classes in person (started the first year with the partner school in the United States and ended it with the two Austrian partner classes at their schools). While we would like to skype with the classes occasionally, until now that hasn’t worked out due to time differences, technical issues or school regulations. Hopefully in the future we can organize some live skype calls between the ViA Ambassadors and the individual classes as well as group sessions.

What exactly are the benefits and obligations of being a Partner School?
Benefits

  • It’s free and open for teachers of all subjects and school classes with students aged 14 to 18 with internet access.
  • With your class you become part of an exclusive network of Partner Schools and take on a leading role in the solution of monthly ‘Challenges’. In these Challenges you cooperate with other selected Partner Schools (1-3 other schools) to directly impact the Sustainability Adventure while at the same time learning about environmental, social and economic challenges and inspiring approaches to solving these challenges throughout the world.
  • You and your class also play a crucial role in the Sustainability Adventure by helping to create the ‘Super Challenges’ every 3-4 months that will be solved by the Associated Schools. We work directly with you to help integrate the Sustainability Adventure into your lesson plan
  • We make you and your engagement visible on our virtual map of sustainability initiatives of the world
  • You have access to the network of Associated Schools and teachers engaged in the areas of sustainable development and global learning

Obligations

  • As a Partner School should be interested in issues relating to sustainable development and global learning and want to include them more in your classes
  • Every 1-2 months you will play a crucial role in solving a Challenge and impacting the Sustainability Adventure directly. Since you will be working with 1-3 other classes as well as the ViA Ambassadors, each Challenge – while flexible to a certain degree – will have a couple deadlines.
  • You should be willing to get creative! The form that your answers to the Challenges take – e.g. video, PowerPoint, posters or the results of a group discussion – are up to you. Get creative and have fun!

What exactly are the benefits and obligations of being an Associated School?
Benefits

  • It’s free and accessible for teachers of all subjects and schools with internet access
  • You become part of a network of associated schools and teachers engaged in the areas of sustainable development and global learning
  • You receive monthly updates with suggestions on how you can integrate the Sustainability Adventure into your lesson plans.
  • Participate in 2-3 ‘Super Challenges’ per school year, in which you and your classes can directly influence the ViA Ambassadors‘ journey
  • We make you and your engagement visible on our virtual map of sustainability initiatives of the world!

Obligations
As an Associated School you are obligated to be interested in issues relating to sustainable development and global learning and want to include them more in your classes. Other than that, you’re not obligated to do anything, though we would be really happy if you take advantage of some of the opportunities to get involved: e.g. using the monthly updates in your class, taking part in one or more ‚Super Challenges‘, etc.

I am a teacher and would like to become an Associated School and learn more about the project and how my class/school can get involved – how do I go about doing this?
Upon signing up as an Associated School, you will receive a monthly email from us with examples on how to integrate the game into your lesson plan (optional) and how to get involved.
You can also send us an email! Write to sustainability.adventure@forum-via.org and ask us anything and everything that you want to know about the project and how to get involved! To ensure a quick reply, please indicate in the subject line of your email that you are contacting us with questions regarding your school’s participation in the project. We look forward to hearing from you!

Are the ViA Ambassadors paid for their work?
No. But we are looking for sponsors so that we can offer small rewards or scholarships for their efforts in future.
The ViA Ambassadors enjoy traveling and are passionate about topics relating to sustainability. Making the world sustainable is the great challenge of our time and traveling is a great way to not only learn a lot about sustainability challenges and solutions, but also generate more understanding for those most affected by the challenges of our times. Taking part in the project as a ViA Ambassador is a great way to share all this with young people around the world: raising their awareness about issues of sustainability, sharing some of the learning opportunities found in travel with them, highlighting inspiring people and initiatives around the world that are pioneers in efforts to make the world more sustainable, and helping them to become critical thinkers and actors for positive change in their own communities.

How do the ViA Ambassadors pay for their trip expenses?
So far the ViA Ambassadors have been paying for their trip expenses solely with the money they saved through several years of work and living simply (for more information, read an interview on the blog Seed, Bark & Root here). By traveling simply, they are able to stretch dollar, euro, peso, etc. further.

Can I become a ViA Ambassador (and adopt a school class for my next journey)?
Yes! We are always looking for people who would be interested in adopting a class on their next trip. We’re still in the development phase of this aspect, but would like to expand the project to include an unlimited number of travelers with their adopted school classes. For more information, write to us at the following email address: sustainability.adventure@forum-via.org!
We look forward to hearing from you and discussing how you can get involved!

Can I help with anything to support the work of Forum ViA?
Yes! We’re a small organization and always looking for people interested in supporting our work! There are several ways you can do this:

  • As a teacher at a Partner School: As we expand the project to include other travelers and classes/schools around the world, we’re always on the lookout for teachers and their schools who are interested in actively participating in the project! Sign up now to become an ‚Associated School‘ (see below) and be the first to find out when we’re looking for new partner schools!
  • As a teacher at an Associated School: Check out the benefits and obligations of being an Associated School above!
  • As a student: Get your class signed up and involved in the Sustainability Adventure! Talk to us, talk to you teacher, talk to your fellow students and participate in the project as an Associated School or a Partner School!
  • As a volunteer: We’re a small non-profit organization and can always use some help! Do you have experience with website development, design, outreach/communication, fundraising/grant-writing, video editing, etc.? Send us an email at volunteering@forum-via.org and we’ll be in touch!
  • As a donor/sponsor: Would you like to support our continued work through a donation or sponsoring part of our work? Click here to donate directly via PayPal or send us an email at support@forum-via.org to talk to us directly about how you can support our work!

For more information write to us at sustainability.adventure@forum-via.org!