Why use the bear, wolf and lynx as a learning opportunity?

The coexistence of humans and large carnivores such as the wolf, bear and lynx presents a learning opportunity - one in which the effectiveness of protected areas and the acceptance of large predators can be discussed with learners, taking into account social and ecological developments.
The basis for this is the signing of the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD, 1992) with which the United Nations expressed its commitment to halting the loss of biodiversity. The aim of the Convention is to raise awareness of the value of biodiversity and to integrate the topic into school curricula (goal 1 of the CBD).


The Wolf, Bear and Lynx as an Opportunity for Education for Sustainable Development (ESD)
EDU-Wildlife focuses on the species wolf, bear and lynx and develops educational programs for promoting sustainable development and compares international management systems in its concepts. The project promotes not only the acquisition of knowledge, but above all cognitive skills in children and young people. Cognitive skills here refer to the ability to apply knowledge about sustainable development and to recognize problems of unsustainable development (cf. de Haan, 2007). The aim is to acquire skills to shape the future in an active and autonomous way. Rational, emotional and practical components are particularly relevant here, as well as the power of judgement. In this context, sustainable means coexistence between humans and wildlife with fewer conflicts and the protection of a species-rich environment.


Guiding Principle: The Beutelsbach Consensus
Due to the controversial nature of the topic and the associated potential for conflict, the Beutelsbach consensus is a guiding principle with regard to the implementation of the educational initiative. The Beutelsbach consensus consists of three fundamental principles: prohibition against overwhelming the pupil, treating controversial subjects as controversial and giving weight to the personal interests of the pupil. In short, pupils are put into a position where they can form their own, reflected opinion in class. Social controversies are also controversially presented and discussed by teachers in the classroom. Pupils are given the opportunity to assess and analyse how their own interests and values are affected by the social and political situation.
What is the Beutelsbach consensus? Wikipedia


Illustration of the SDGs
EDU-Wildlife also addresses the sustainable development goals of the United Nations (SDG, goal 15): protect, restore and promote sustainable use of terrestrial ecosystems, sustainably manage forests, [...] and halt biodiversity loss. The conservation of habitats and the sustainable use of natural resources are of great importance for the conservation of wildlife. Illegal hunting and habitat loss due to heavy infrastructure and dense population, intensive agriculture and human leisure activities in nature are factors that threaten species. Nevertheless, habitat loss is only one of the factors threatening wildlife. The reasons behind loss of biodiversity are complex and comprise social, economic and ecological dimensions. In the case of endangered predators, different perspectives lead to a dilemma when it comes to decision-making, where those affected have to choose between the protection of the animal species, economic interests and possibly subjective feelings of security. Such situations represent a potential for conflict, as human interests in land use stand in opposition to the preservation of the species. The return and presence of major predators serves as a good example to illustrate nature conservation guidelines such as Natura 2000 (a pan-European network of areas for the preservation of species and habitats) and raise awareness of various environmental issues - including the EU Biodiversity Strategy 2020.



FOCUS: Educators and Pupils as Multipliers
EDU-Wildlife focuses on educators and pupils as educational multipliers. In education, learning opportunities in the sense of Education for Sustainable Development are viewed from as many different perspectives as possible. This enables learners to objectively assess the so-called social viability and coexistence of humans and large predators and to take a well-reasoned position. Cooperation structures with institutions and initiatives from different areas or the involvement of different stakeholders underlines the active participation in social decision-making processes. This can give rise to new perspectives on the topic, which stimulates an objective dialogue and promotes an understanding of the views of various interest groups.


Promotion of Skills and Choice of Method
Based on the areas of competence of Education for Sustainable Development and the parameters for the field of global development, as well as the educational standards of the conference of German education ministers, the educational modules we offer promote the following skills:

  • Thinking and acting with foresight
  • Interdisciplinary learning
  • Reflection on one's own principles and the principles of others
  • Empathy and solidarity with others
  • Participation in decision-making processes
    Cognitive skills (de Haan & Harenberg, 1999)

The use of participative methods in particular promotes a process-oriented and open understanding of education.



de Haan, G., & Harenberg, D. (1999). Expertise "Bildung für nachhaltige Entwicklung". Book 72, BLK Bonn
de Haan, G. (2007) (publisher). Orientierungshilfe Bildung für nachhaltige Entwicklung in der Sekundarstufe I. Begründungen, Kompetenzen, Lernangebote. Berlin.