The Sharing Perspectives Foundation is primarily responsible for the design and implementation of the Virtual Exchange programme “Climate Justice: from Inequality to Inclusion”.

‘Climate Justice: From Inequality to Inclusion’ is an interactive, international, online learning experience about one of humanity’s biggest challenges: Finding just and inclusive ways to respond to the climate crisis. Through Virtual Exchange, students from diverse national and cultural backgrounds learn with – and from – each other, by engaging in dialogue, skill-building activities, and an activating group project. 

Over the course of this 10-week programme, students meet online on a weekly basis for a two-hour group session guided by trained facilitators, to exchange ideas on the week’s topic(s) and discuss the content. They also engage in relationship building activities and exercises to enhance their intercultural competencies. Alongside group learning, this course includes a curriculum offering engaging bite-sized audiovisual materials like videos, articles and podcasts. These materials provide information on key concepts, as well as spotlight a range of perspectives and voices on the sociopolitical dimensions of climate change. The curriculum is designed to provoke thoughts and critical thinking, provide starters for discussions, and create awareness.

Who is the course for?

This course is free and accessible for students of partner institutions of the CliVEx project between 18 and 30 years old. A basic comprehension of the English language, including A1 level of speaking and writing, is necessary for students to participate. Students need to have access to a laptop or PC with internet connection and committed to join the online group sessions and fulfil assignments and a group project throughout the 10-week programme.

What do students learn? 

Students are presented with audiovisual learning materials that are accessible on a weekly basis. This curriculum focuses on materials about inequality and power in the context of the climate crisis, as well as different approaches to responding to the climate crisis;  from inclusive climate action to global politics and policy. The resources also provide insights on the media landscape related to climate change, ways climate stories are communicated, and how this translates into action. 

Generally speaking, the learning materials that comprise this audiovisual curriculum are selected to: 

  • Provide key information in accessible ‘language’. 
  • Spotlight diverse experiences and voices.  
  • Present creative and thought-provoking ideas.
  • Inspire and activate. 

By combining different synchronous and asynchronous learning elements, students will gain valuable transversal skills and competencies, including: 

Global Awareness and Systems Thinking: Students will develop a comprehensive understanding of global climate challenges, sociopolitical issues, and the interconnectedness of various systems to understand the complexity and nuances of local issues.  

Digital Literacy: Students improve their competency in utilizing tech platforms, building multimedia products, and engaging in digital communication effectively.

Effective Communication: Students will enhance their verbal communication and active listening skills, resulting in higher confidence and effectiveness in communication and collaboration in culturally diverse groups.

Leadership and Collaboration: Students develop leadership qualities and the ability to work collaboratively in diverse and remote teams to achieve common goals.

Intercultural competence and intercultural sensitivity: Students learn to reflect on personal biases and value diverse perspectives, experiences and backgrounds.

Creativity and Innovation: Students are encouraged to think creatively and adopt innovative approaches to addressing challenges.

Civic Engagement and Social Responsibility:  Students will foster a sense of civic responsibility and active engagement in addressing societal issues.

Sustainability Competences: Students will gain sustainable values, such as valuing sustainability and supporting fairness, improve their critical thinking and problem-solving skills, and act towards sustainability through collective action and individual initiatives.

How do students learn? 

In this Virtual Exchange course students are active and autonomous under the guidance of trained facilitators, the exchanges continue over a number of weeks rather than being one-off encounters, and, fundamentally, they focus on forging meaningful encounters between young people centring their lived experiences.  By embracing high levels of diversity, we recognize each participant as a valuable source of knowledge, considering them experts in their own realities. This experiential learning process empowers students to improve transversal skills, such as intercultural competencies and foreign language proficiency, as they directly engage with national and cultural others.

Weekly Online Group Sessions

The live, online, dialogue sessions represent a safe space where students can confront challenging and sensitive issues, address power dynamics, and gain confidence to speak to their peers with honesty, empathy and curiosity. To achieve this, we foster high levels of diversity; seeing each individual as a source of knowledge and an expert in their own lived experience. This experiential learning process stimulates the practice of transversal skills such as cross-cultural competences and foreign language proficiency as participants directly engage with national and cultural others.

Weekly Learning Materials and Assignments 

Prior to their online group session, students review the week’s learning materials and are required to submit a short written response. Their submissions should not be a summary, but rather a thoughtful comment that demonstrates that the student has fully engaged with the learning materials. After their participation in the week’s online group sessions, students are required to share their thoughts about the session in their individual, private reflection journal. Their submissions will create a personal record of their experience and development through the 10-week learning process. 

Group Project 

Students collaborate in teams on a ‘Climate Action Project’ to bring their online experience to their offline realities in an act of cross-border cooperation. These Climate Action Projects  are collaborative projects that are designed collectively and then implemented locally. Empowered by newfound knowledge and intercultural competencies, students work together to collectively design innovative climate actions to be implemented in their local realities. The Climate Action Projects are structured around the principles of inclusivity and climate justice, and aim to leave a lasting impact on their communities and the climate beyond the end of the course. 

This unique group project is designed to foster intercultural collaboration, and entails hands-on and peer-supported improvement of transversal skills. These include intercultural competences, communication, sustainability competences, conflict resolution, entrepreneurship, digital competences, teamwork, self-empowerment, and project management and delivery. 

Students will start with their Climate Action Projects in Week 3 by forming teams and choosing a topic. They will then develop and submit a project plan in Week 5 and will start with implementing their ideas thereafter, providing an update on their experiences and progress by Week 7. Toward the end of the course, teams will present their Climate Action Projects to fellow students during the online group sessions. The final milestone is for students to submit a project-related blog post reflecting on their experience and learning, as well as the impact of their Climate Action Project. The Climate Action Projects are expected to take 40 hours of individual and group work outside students’ online group sessions.

For more information, please visit the project’s website:


Funded by the European Union. Views and opinions expressed are however those of the authors only and do not necessarily reflect those of the European Union or the European Education and Culture Executive Agency (EACEA). Neither the European Union nor EACEA can be held responsible for them.





The Digital Us

The Digital Us wil sociale media transformeren tot een meer inclusieve en toegankelijke omgeving waar jongeren die in Nederland online racisme ervaren zich veiliger te kunnen uiten. De huidige online omgeving is in toenemende mate vijandig. Tegelijkertijd ligt de verantwoordelijkheid om racisme tegen te gaan nog te veel bij mensen die hier slachtoffer van zijn. Dit project wil dat veranderen door mensen die racisme online meemaken samen te brengen met degenen die dat niet ervaren, maar wel willen leren effectieve bondgenoten te zijn om online interacties inclusiever en veiliger te maken. 

The Digital Us bestaat uit drie activiteiten: een virtuele uitwisseling, trainingssessies en een ‘praktijk periode. Dialoog, peer-learning en actie zijn hierbij de kernwoorden.  

The Digital Us is een project waar de kennis en ervaringen van jongeren centraal staan. Om ervoor te zorgen dat de inhoud van de uitwisseling, de training en de ‘praktijkperiode’ goed aansluit bij de ervaringen en leefwereld van jongeren, worden er 10 deelnemers betrokken bij de start van dit project als kerngroep voor ideeën en advies. Daarnaast wordt er een innovatieve sociale media-analyse uitgevoerd die, in combinatie met de bevindingen uit de kerngroep, ervoor zorgt dat de verdere activiteiten doelgericht en betekenisvol zijn.  

Tijdens de virtuele uitwisselingen gaan 75 jongeren onder begeleiding van facilitators met elkaar het gesprek aan over uitdagende onderwerpen die vaak onbesproken blijven, zoals culturele afkomst, etniciteit, privilege en (on)veiligheid online. Deze gesprekken vinden plaats op basis van nieuwsgierigheid, gelijkwaardigheid en empathie en stimuleren de ontwikkeling van vaardigheden zoals constructief communiceren, actief luisteren en zelfreflectie.

Na de uitwisseling  worden de jongeren samen getraind in effectieve manieren om social media veiliger en inclusiever te maken, en zullen ze als bondgenoten deze nieuwe vaardigheden toepassen door in te grijpen online. Gedurende dit proces worden deelnemers begeleid door ervaren coaches.

The Digital Us is een project van Stichting Sharing Perspectives en Build-Up start op 1 september 2023. Vanaf november wordt de kerngroep betrokken en vanaf februari 2024 zullen de virtuele uitwisselingen tussen jongeren starten. De evaluatie van het project wordt in augustus 2024 verwacht.

The Digital Us is mede mogelijk gemaakt met financiële steun van Fonds 21, Stichting Democratie & Media, VSBfonds en vfonds.

Erasmus+ Virtual Exchange as a new form of education

As one of my case studies, I focused on the Virtual Exchange format of the Sharing Perspectives Foundation as I noticed they were aiming to do something different with their online courses. I talked to staff members about the design of the format and studied the daily operation of the courses. I tried to understand what is specific to the SPF format and consider the educational implications of these specificities. In the end, the purpose of my study was to give a more detailed view on the way open online education initiatives could work, and formulate some more grounded claims about their role in the educational field. 

What I found is that, in many respects, the Virtual Exchange format of the Sharing Perspectives Foundation does something totally different than traditional education. Digital technologies are implemented in such a way that young people from all over the globe share resources about complex issues that play at a global level, like the videos and reading materials. Next to that, the Virtual Exchange format integrates discussions about local effects of these global issues, by encouraging participants to describe their personal experiences, to give local examples, and to share interviews with their friends or family members about the discussed topics. These activities in the Virtual Exchange give a stage to differences between participants who are from various geographical regions and have different backgrounds. But they may also cast light on surprising similarities: participants from different parts of the world may share passions, aspirations, experiences, or even linguistic expressions. What the Virtual Exchange format introduces, in this way, is a continuous connection between the local and the global, online and offline, personal and common, or differences and similarities. 

The image visualizes how differences and similarities unfold during the dialogue sessions

The image visualizes how differences and similarities unfold during the dialogue sessions, like a ‘color wheel’ or a fan. That is, on the one hand, this unfolding shows dissimilarities (in the image, the different lines making up the circles. On the other hand, these differences are held together through commonalities (in the image, the ‘joint’ or hinge keeping the different circles together). Image retrieved from: van de Oudeweetering, K., & Decuypere, M. (2020). In between hyperboles: forms and formations in Open Education. Learning, Media and Technology, 1-18 (Advance online publication). doi: 10.1080/17439884.2020.1809451

As much as digital technologies establish these new connections, they are not without glitches. Poor internet connections, hardware issues, or overburdened servers frequently interrupt the dialogue sessions, and sometimes prevent participants from entering the dialogue sessions. I experienced this myself one time when there was a power cut in my street and my apartment. Luckily, there is a technical team offering support in these cases and facilitators try to integrate these technical problems in the dialogue session: they encourage participants to think about the fragility of digital connections, and how the ability to connect online often heavily depends on local contexts.  

Besides these specific characteristics of the Virtual Exchange format of SPF, I also noticed that the online design bears similarities with ‘traditional’ school settings. For example, the small dialogue groups give the same safety as a class, the online meeting rooms are designed to create a similar feeling of commonality as in a classroom,  and there is a course outline that structures the learning materials like a regular curriculum. In this sense, the Virtual Exchange format of SPF integrates various characteristics of education that we are familiar to. Moreover, it is this continuity that makes the format work: we need closedness to build bonds, we need some sort of place and time to come together, and we need a timeline to commit to a learning trajectory. Therefore, this study helped to see that the format does not introduce a radical disruption from or for traditional forms of education, but establishes new dimensions and connections to existing, formal education settings. 

The study is accessible via, but subscriptions or university networks are required.

About the author

Karmijn van de Oudeweetering is a 29-year old PhD student at the KU Leuven in Belgium. Her research is focused on open online education initiatives, how they are embedded in European education policy, and how they are consequently realized. Furthermore, the research focuses on describing and visualizing forms of space and time that come into being through these online educational developments.

Virtual Exchange or Virtual training?

Methodological principles

Virtual exchange
Virtual training
Designed around
process content
Learning is
implicit explicit
Learner is
leading in process central in design
Method of instruction
facilitated instructed
Interaction between learners
is the core of the learning is supportive to the learning
Emphasis on
Contemporary themes Timeless themes and skills
Interaction is
mostly synchronous synchronous & asynchronous
Connection is made to
people content
deepen the learning process check the learning process
Learning outcomes are
flexible to each participant identical for each participant


A virtual exchange

A designed interactive process in which the learner is leading. Learners interact synchronously under the guidance of facilitators to engage on contemporary themes. Through the interactive process learners implicitly develop various skills. However, to which extent they develop those skills is flexible and dependent on their own needs and previous experiences. Participant’s curiosity might be triggered and stimulated, their self-esteem can be enhanced, their previously held beliefs and viewpoints may be challenged and their listening skills might improve. The assignments learners engage in are solely designed to deepen the learning process. Submitting assignments is sufficient to pass the course as meta-analysis on learning outcomes for all participants together show us that the overall learning outcomes are being met at a certain level of participation and assignments submission.


A virtual training

Is designed around specific content or skills. Learning outcomes are explicit and equal to all participants. Learners are instructed, and engage in the training through readings and video-materials and interact with peers or instructors both synchronous and asynchronous to support their comprehension of the content. Assignments are used to control for this comprehension and can be failed after submission. Trained skills and taught content are timeless and do not necessarily have a link to contemporary issues. 


Learning objectives

Typically, through virtual exchanges learners develop what is referred to in literature as soft skills, transversal skills or 21st Century skills. Such skills include curiosity, self-esteem, tolerance to ambiguity, serenity, resilience, critical thinking, listening skills, or cross-cultural competences. Through virtual trainings, participants typically develop more concrete or ‘hard’ skills, like digital competences, foreign language skills or media-literacy. This also clarifies the difference in learning outcome measurement. It is at least unethical but arguably impossible, to fail a participant on a low level of self-esteem or by not being curious enough. It is possible to measure someone’s ability to use online tools, such as Google sheets or to measure a certain language proficiency or the ability to distinguish between real and fake news. The above is not exclusive, but illustrative to a typical learning outcome for each model.