Meet Our Partners: Míriam Arenas, Universitat Oberta de Catalunya

Universitat Oberta de Catalunya is one of the members of the EduFire Toolkit. UOC is an online university that offers bachelor degrees, master’s degrees, postgraduate courses and language courses. Likewise, CareNet is a research group of the UOC’s Interdisciplinary Internet Institute (IN3) that studies the social and material configuration of care and response in crisis situations in the Network Society.

Míriam Arenas, researcher at CareNet, tells us a little more about the role of the UOC within the project, as well as her point of view and expectations about it:

What are the inquietudes that gave birth to this project? And, what are your inquietudes for being involved in this project?

At UOC, we had the previous experience of the European project CUIDAR, where we identified that teenagers are one of the most forgotten age groups in disaster risk reduction policies and practices. However, the younger generations are among the most concerned about climate change, as demonstrated by the Fridays for Future movement. Therefore, we would like to create learning spaces for young people connected to issues that concern and affect them. In addition, as a proposal to be developed in the context of compulsory education, it aims at reaching the maximum diversity of students of these ages.

What is, in Spain (concretely, Catalonia), the social perception of forest fires? Is this issue addressed at an educational level?

The issue of social perception is a difficult question to answer: it will depend on the context, the people we ask, etc. In addition, we will surely find very diverse and even contradictory perceptions. And at the educational level, the reflection is similar: one thing is the official curriculum, and another is the multiple actions that teachers and other educational actors (leisure organisations, environmental associations, etc.) may be carrying out at a more local level and to stay off the radar. A project like this should also help us to highlight these initiatives that are already being carried out.

Do you think this project could stay or continue in the classrooms in the fase of the climate emergency we are facing?

This will depend on the teachers, who do not always find it easy to carry out activities that depart from more standardised practices. But we hope with this project to support this goal. On the one hand, by making available materials, resources and ideas, they can adapt to their context. And on the other hand, by encouraging other local actors (City Councils, associative movements, professionals and technicians, etc.) to develop collaborative models with educational centres that help them achieve common goals and shared interests in the field of forest fires and the fight against climate change.