Welcome to TEACHENER

Integrating Social Sciences and Humanities into Teaching about Energy

Many engineers still tend to see engineering as a highly specialised practice, out of politics, cultural context and social values. However, science and technology are part of a larger context of policies, market structures, power relations and values, beliefs and ideologies. In the case of energy, the debates around CO2 emissions, climate change, conventional resources or controversies around nuclear energy or shale gas transcend the technical, engineering issues to complex socio-technical phenomena on the border between technology and society. In this context, higher education in engineering and energy systems needs to be set in a broader perspective and context, where engineers are expected to have skills and competences also in the social and ethical dimension.

With this in mind, TEACHENER aims to fill the gap between social sciences and humanities and energy teaching at universities in Europe, by transposing social sciences and humanities knowledge to the domain of higher technical education. Innovative educational practices will provide the graduates of technical energy studies with interdisciplinary skills, knowledge and competencies in social sciences and humanities, enabling them to better respond to the needs of the labour market related to the shift to knowledge society and a fair energy transition with new or adapted job profiles.

The project started on 1st September 2016 and will finish in August 2019.

The final event will present the Edu-kit and teaching modules and will discuss “Social Sciences and Humanities at Universities of Technology”  (Gdansk Technical University, 27-28 June 2019). Further information about the conference here.

The first part of the TEACHENER project was to provide an overview of the existing relations between social sciences and humanities (SSH) and teaching about energy at the partner higher education institutions (CTU in Czech Republic, UPC in Spain, UFZ in Germany and GUT in Poland) and also institutions beyond these in the partner countries. A survey was conducted in order to identify existing gaps in SSH in energy teaching as well as needs and expectations of students and teachers in energy related teaching programmes at Master and PhD levels. Whilst graduates from technical higher education institutions are expected to be well trained engineers and natural scientists, they are also required to have competences in social aspects of energy uses. However, energy teaching is still dominated by technological aspects and the broad social dimension of energy is marginalized. National workshops were held with representatives from public administration, academia, businesses and research institutions in the four TEACHENER countries to discuss the needs and expectations of businesses and public administrations regarding the education of technical energy studies graduates.

The second part of the project focused on the design and development of  an Edu-kit, a complex set of ready-to-use teaching modules covering various topics associated with social aspects of energy for educating Master and PhD Students. The edu-kit provides background information and teaching sessions in interactive formats for the teachers on 8 topics (teaching modules) in a web platform. The modules have been tested at the partners’ technical institutions and during two Student Winter Schools held at UPC and UFZ in February and March 2019 respectively.