Designing a program
3.1 A free-standing workshop The content of the free-standing workshop depends largely on the audience and timeframe. ‘The participants are the curriculum’ No matter who your participants are, they need to be the centre of the workshop. You may think you know approximately how much or what they know about the major themes, but sooner or later they will surprise you. Our pedagogy builds on asking questions, listening to the answers, and adapting the program and materials accordingly. This doesn’t mean you can’t plan. Indeed, careful planning is important – as long as you are willing and able to change your plans each time you or the participants discover better ways of meeting their needs. Enough is enough Irrespective of how much commitment you feel to the cause, you ‘can’t have it all’. It means that there are limits to what you can include in the workshop (and what the audience can digest). This is not said to discourage experimentation. On the contrary, the more open and receptive to the needs of the audience you are, the more synergy may result. It is important, though, to bear in mind some basic exercises that will be helpful in any context.
For the shortest, simplest event it may be enough to ask participants about their ideas and feelings about sustainable development, and show them how to convey emotions in drawings. Allow your audience to feel a bit ‘hungry’ for knowledge or (better yet) the action. Annexe 1 contains a suggestion for a 1.5-hour workshop, and for a 3-day residential program.
3.2 Relation to formal education: example of Belarus In Belarus comics are still considered recreational reading. But as comics become more accepted as a legitimate form of art and literature, they are making their way into classrooms. There is emerging research that shows that comics and graphic novels not only motivate but also support struggling readers, enrich the skills of accomplished readers, and are highly effective at teaching “content-heavy” material in subject areas such as science and social studies. Activities under the program “Comics for sustainable development” can be orga-
nized not only in workshops but also in school as elective or extracurricular activities such as a circle, a comics studio, an environmental club. A course of 24 sessions has been designed (see Annexe 1). The frequency of meetings depends on the situation. For instance, in school an elective subject may be one lesson a week, whereas in a cultural institution it could be twice a week. At a summer camp meetings can be daily, for example as shown in Annexe 1, residential program.
A guide for leaders of workshops for comics for sustainable development