The classroom innovation Health Project +1.5ºC is developed in the Cellular Biology subject and seeks to sensitize first-semester medical students, through actions against climate change and environmental pollution and its impact on human health.
It is based on situated cognition as a significant learning strategy. The contents of the course that are addressed in innovation include: cell diversity (bacteria and viruses), biomolecules, endocrine system, metabolism, cell cycle and reproduction. Through the development of strategies implemented in the students’ homes, activities associated with the topics are addressed: vector-borne diseases (VTD), health risks associated with microplastics, effects of environmental pollutants such as endocrine disruptors and/or or carcinogens, solid waste management.
From this perspective, the proposed actions are aligned with the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), which provide a framework for considering climate action, within the various dimensions of sustainability. SDGs 3 (Health and Well-being), 11 (Sustainable cities and communities), 12 (Responsible production and consumption) and 13 (Climate action) are involved. At the same time, the development of critical thinking skills (CTS) is promoted in the face of these planetary challenges.
Students building learning communities
This innovation has led to the students building learning communities that link their families, their peers and teachers who guide this experience. which provide a framework for considering climate action, within the various dimensions of sustainability. SDGs 3 (Health and Well-being), 11 (Sustainable cities and communities), 12 (Responsible production and consumption) and 13 (Climate action) are involved. At the same time, the development of critical thinking skills (CTS) is promoted in the face of these planetary challenges.
This innovation has led to the students building learning communities that link their families, their peers and teachers who guide this experience. Proyecto Salud +1.5ºC (Project The Health +1.5ºC) is a pedagogical innovation that involves first-year medical students in the Cell Biology course in addressing the challenges posed by climate change to life on planet Earth. The emphasis on +1.5ºC refers to the increase in global temperature by 1.5ºC, which is dangerous because it can cause irreversible damage to the planet’s ecosystems and natural resources.
This leads to challenges not only in ecological, economic, and social terms but also in the direct effects of global warming and environmental pollution on human health, which are largely unknown to most people. From this perspective, the development of the subject can articulate the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), 3: Health and Well-being, 6: Clean water and sanitization, 11: Sustainable Cities and Communities, 12: Responsible Production and Consumption and 13: Climate Action (UN, 2022); to health problems such as vector-borne diseases (VTE), health risks associated with microplastics, effects of environmental pollutants with carcinogenic or endocrine disruptor potential, and solid waste management in the home.
Model of situated cognition
These topics are related to subject contents such as Cell diversity and non-cellular entities (viruses), Biomolecules, Endocrine system, Metabolism, Cell cycle and cell division. We seek that our students not only learn biology concepts, but that they can apply them in real contexts through the model of situated cognition. This theory is oriented towards meaningful learning and promotes the transfer of knowledge to real life situations (Choi & Hannafin, 1995).
At the same time, critical thinking skills (CST) are developed in the face of these global problems. The HPCs addressed in this innovation are: Interpretation (categorization), Analysis (examining ideas), Inference (examining evidence, conjecturing alternatives and deducing conclusions), Explanation (describing results), Evaluation (evaluating statements) and Self-regulation (self-examination) selected according to Facione’s (1990) approach.
Progress was also observed in the HPC evaluated, especially in the sub-skills describing results with 97%, in categorization with 97%, in conjecturing alternatives 93% and in examining ideas 85%. Similarly, the pre-post comparison shows progress in the concepts associated with the Cell Biology course. At the same time, sustainable thinking and leadership in environmental action are strengthened and clear strategies are contributed towards the fulfillment of the SDGs addressed.
Regarding the previously mentioned topics, students are able to connect their families with prevention actions against infectious diseases, specifically Dengue fever. They raise awareness among their families about carcinogenic compounds and endocrine disruptors found in the home, such as certain foods, cleaning and disinfecting products, perfumes, soaps, and others. These compounds not only cause health problems in humans but also negatively affect the health of other organisms in aquatic ecosystems.
In addition, by discussing diseases associated with microplastics, families are encouraged to reduce their consumption of single-use plastics and to consider sustainable alternatives. Through the analysis of the impact of inadequate solid waste management on human health, family members are encouraged to sort and reduce their solid waste, as well as to reuse and recycle it.
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