This article was contributed by Trinnawat Suwanprik and was edited for clarity.
Chiang Mai, Thailand, September 2021 – Almost two years since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, educational institutions the world over are still struggling to regain their pre-pandemic footing.
For the city of Chiang Mai in Thailand, a straightforward return to the old normal could be counterproductive given that the pandemic exposed the current system’s weaknesses. In a post-COVID-19 world, experts predict that environmental issues from climate change and socio-economic factors would also give way to challenges that would further complicate the educational status quo.
The government of Chiang Mai City will thus be collaborating with the Chiang Mai Rajabhat University, its Department of Environmental Science, and Faculty of Science and Technology to develop active learning strategies that go beyond traditional lecture halls.
Called the City Room (City + Classroom) project, the partnership will entail close cooperation between the local government and the university as the latter turns the city into their students’ classroom. It adopts the EPIC Model developed by the Educational Partnership for Innovation in Community Network (EPIC-N) and supported by UNEP – Global Adaptation Network (UNEP-GAN).
Specifically, the City Room project will enable learners to actively apply theories and learnings into real-world situations through solving real world challenges. Not only will students gain invaluable experiences, the project will also enable the inception of grassroots solutions to local problems.
It will initially focus on solving environmental issues plaguing Chiang Mai’s Old City Moat.
The Chiang Mai local government and Chiang Mai Rajabhat University hopes to expand the City Room projects to neighboring cities, helping them achieve their Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), including Goal 4: Quality Education; Goal 6: Clean Water and Sanitation; and Goal 11: Sustainable Cities and Communities.
Through investing in its education sector, Chiang Mai hopes to equip its youth with the skills and capacities they need to help make the city more sustainable and resilient in the future.