Watt Watchers of Texas: Texas is Too Good To Waste™

Collective Learning in Energy Education for Collective Action in the Energy Sector

February 1, 2022

Our ability to pass on information from generation to generation, known as collective learning, stands as a hallmark of what makes us unique as human beings. Before modern civilization, it was imperative to communicate knowledge regarding animal migration, safe vegetation, and climate patterns to survive in the wild. The knowledge we have accumulated over centuries has allowed us to advance far beyond any other animal on the planet and continues to be a pivotal factor contributing to our future. Society today is drastically different from what it used to be. 

Essential knowledge for our survival, that which deserved priority for the education of younger generations, was more obvious when the threats to our survival had fangs and made loud, intimidating noises. Modern-day threats are much more subtle and are often man-made. Additionally, history has taught us that knowledge is power; therefore, political and economic factors often contribute more directly to the education system and can unfortunately fail or even consciously choose not to see the importance of specific topics. Energy education has slowly but surely become a top priority for the world's strongest superpowers and with it investment in sustainability efforts has allowed a new wave of educational programs to emerge. 

However, energy education can be very broad. It consists of everything from what energy itself is and what types of energy resources we currently have at our disposal to how energy can be used to make our lives easier. New technology can be exceptionally exciting. The advancements made during the industrial revolution in Great Britain catapulted the nation into a new era and allowed them to become one of the world's most influential and powerful nations. However, the environmental consequences created due to people's ignorance regarding these new technologies continue to affect the world to this day. 

The first thing that needs to be understood is that energy is a pivotal part of nearly every industry in the world. It is the foundation of our infrastructural systems and can influence us in the form of the water and food we consume, the way we use transportation, the comfort levels we experience in our homes, and much more. Therefore, passing down what we have learned about the consequences of irresponsible energy consumption is essential if any real change is going to be achieved. 

Collective learning is important because, since the 1800s, our knowledge surrounding energy resources and the effect of using them responsibly has grown exponentially. However, our effort to combat the negative effects of our actions has not been quite as significant. Modern-day energy education needs to be revamped and fortified, and to be taken seriously; the community must see environmental sustainability as a priority for the future. 

Educators tasked with incorporating new sustainability resources into their curriculums need to be aware of current political standpoints, government policy as well as new technological innovations. These factors determine the margins in which energy professionals may do their jobs and can reveal vital gaps in our energy systems. For example, the UK's new law set to reduce emissions by 78% by 2035 will force those currently working in the energy sector to pivot their approach and use of energy resources substantially. This requires additional training, resources, and time. In some cases, new careers need to be created, and in all cases, old careers will need to be updated to meet the new demand. 

Trade careers, such as those that involve plumbing and HVAC technicians, are often not considered when thinking of energy education; however, they play a pivotal role in the energy sector and can have a huge impact on clean energy. The restructuring of our energy systems that is due to take place throughout the next decade will soon require the development of trade skill pathways for energy careers. With increasing costs associated with four-year universities along with decreasing guarantee of employment after graduation, this could mean new, lucrative opportunities for those who choose to take on a trade program instead. Additionally, with the need to repair or rebuild aging infrastructure, the demand for qualified skilled trade workers will continue to grow. 

The importance of collective action must also be strongly emphasized. Community standards in regards to clean energy as well as expectations surrounding energy resources can have a huge impact on the energy industry. When the community comes together to assure energy education is being incorporated into the curriculum at schools and conservation efforts such as recycling programs are being implemented and maintained, it can assure that collective learning in these communities is sustained and can guarantee long-term positive effects. 

For more information on clean energy careers, at-home activities for students, and much more, visit Smart Energy Education!

Watt Watchers of Texas is a Partner Program of Smart Energy Education.
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