Innovative Educational Approaches

REFRESCH has come to understand that education will be critical in advancing food security, sustainable energy, and clean water in resource-constrained locations.

REFRESCH is exploring the incorporation of two innovative concepts into its research approach, integrating virtual and practical platforms to attain educational, motivational and societal impacts for young people.

Case-Based Modules

REFRESCH is grateful for the synergistic efforts of the Michigan Sustainability Cases (MSC)  grant program at the University of Michigan, which is developing multimodal case studies in the area of sustainability to engage with a broad variety of learners in both formal and informal settings. One of these cases – The Wolf Hunt – was translated into French and piloted at the workshop in Lambaréné in May 2016 to enthusiastic reception. The representative of the Gabonese National Park System who was in attendance later commented that the issue of the wolf, who paralleled to them the elephant, was very interesting. He wondered whether a case about the use of electric fences could also be written and was hopeful that such educational tools could be made available soon.

Maker Spaces

REFRESCH is also striving to develop a rich understanding of the pedagogy and community of practice, in relation to young people in particular, as it currently exists in the informal context of a maker space. A maker space was successfully employed in the May 2016 REFRESCH workshop in Gabon to accomplish several purposes – demonstrate technologies, spark discussions about the cultural appropriateness of the technologies, and jumpstart co-design efforts as suggestions for improvements were made. Here in Ann Arbor, REFRESCH is very appreciative for the inspiration and support of MakerWorks, a membership-based business that provides equipment for small-scale manufacturing. It has been a fantastic location to show visitors from Africa the potential of the maker movement.