Design Thinking Classroom Experience

UBUNTU: how to integrate a Design for Change project in the curriculum

Santa Teresa de Jesús (Teresiana School Foundation) Show map
UBUNTU’s aim is sustainability. By analyzing our consumption and production system’s impact on the environment, the students design and put into practice concrete actions to make our daily life more sustainable and to create a movement of change and awareness in their reality.


With this project, our school commits to innovative methodologies, Design for Change, and Service-learning, which allow students to become protagonists of their own learning while growing into social changemakers. After carrying out the Feel step, the students concluded that the focus of action would be to make their life more sustainable and, as of that, the project was structured by both students and teachers’ cooperative work.


The project structure follows the steps of the Design for Change methodology: Feel, Imagine, Do, Assess, and Share.
In the Feel step the students determined the focus of action: make our life more sustainable.
In the Imagine step they designed the aspects they should study and the possible interventions they would make (that would adapt to Covid protocols).
In the Do step they started to implement their initiatives while teachers were in charge of preparing the curricular part of the project and facilitating the development of the activities.
The Assess step involved evaluating the contents worked, the personal process of each participant as well as the group process.
Since we weren’t allowed to leave school due to the Covid protocols, the students decided that it would be important to involve all the courses of high school and baccalaureate in the project, so they prepared sessions on sustainability for the rest of the students as well as specific activities during break times.
The impact of the project outside school was determined by our active presence on the Blog and social media, and by the alliances established with other institutions or groups.
Some highlights: the presentation of the project to the Mayor of Salamanca at the City Hall, the collaboration with FET students from Gràcia, Barcelona, the encounter with Fridays for Future Salamanca, and the concrete activities carried out with people with different abilities from AVIVA Foundation, Salamanca, as agents involved in the UBUNTU project.
Destacamos la presentación del proyecto al alcalde de Salamanca en el Ayuntamiento, la colaboración con el alumnado del colegio FET de Gràcia de Barcelona, el encuentro con Fridays for Future Salamanca y la realización de actividades concretas con la Fundación AVIVA de personas con capacidades diferentes de Salamanca como agentes involucrados en el proyecto UBUNTU.

alumnos en presentación en clase

entrega de reconocimiento en ayuntamiento

The objectives of this project were designed under the framework of reference of the Sustainable Development Goals, and these will be stated taking into account the different interventions carried out in the DO step.

Delve into climate emergency and sustainability.

The contents of each course were revised in relation to sustainability. Also, external training and online encounters about sustainability were carried out.

Share the students’ study and research

Creation of a Blog and social media accounts . Students prepare talks and short lectures to other school students.

Propose actions to be more sustainable.

Design and propose concrete actions to lead a more sustainable life and to promote a social commitment that can stop climate emergency.

Carry out cooperative work and build alliances in our reality.

Build a learning environment that enables students to develop their talents, to put them at the service of the common good, and to build cooperation networks.

This project attempts to give an answer to the following Sustainable Development Goals:

SDG 11. Sustainable cities and communities: make cities and human settlements inclusive, safe, resilient, and sustainable.
SDG 12. Responsible consumption and production: ensure sustainable production and consumption patterns.
SDG 13. Climate action: take urgent action to combat climate change and its impacts.

Didactic sequence


Specific training on sustainability and climate emergency

It was very important for the students to get trained in these two concepts so as to build awareness of our planet’s current situation and our responsibility in recovering it and taking care of it. Studying exhaustively our consumption and production system at a local, national and international level was helpful at the moment of encouraging changes in our daily habits that can have a great repercussion on the care of the planet. (SDG 12. Responsible consumption and production: ensure sustainable production and consumption patterns). This part of the study and research was done in the Geography and History course, applying the Service-learning methodology to study and analyze all the course contents from the point of view of sustainability and acknowledgement of people’s dignity. We conducted research on different topics (alternative economic systems, coltan exploitation, climate change, effects of globalization, the water footprint in the different economic sectors…) and it has been interesting as well as rewarding to work cooperatively with FET students from Gràcia, Barcelona (Interschool cooperative work). Several of the students’ reflections were published on the UBUNTU blog to sensitize our society about the importance of a good use of resources and a responsible and environmentally committed consumption.
The blog, created by a group of students from the communication team of the project, contains the following reflections:
Articles about world pollution:
Coltan and life’s fragility:
The water footprint:
Our world:
Stop and think:
Salamanca Green city:
Nature and wellbeing:

Part of the training was also external and online. We participated in the D. Game/Young Innovators workshop where students made an in-depth study of the concept of sustainability and the way to make it possible in our daily life according to SDG 11. Sustainable cities and communities: make cities and human settlements inclusive, safe, resilient, and sustainable.
It was very rewarding to participate at the National Debate League 1Planet4All with students from all around Europe with the common aim of seeking solutions to the climate emergency. (SDG 13. Climate action: take urgent action to combat climate change and its impacts.)
Participation at the Debate League 1Planet4All
D.Game/Young Innovators Workshop I
D.Game/Young Innovators Workshop II

In the English course students calculated our own water footprint.

They studied the good use of this natural resource which is so important for the development of life. (Service-Learning methodology). SDG 6 was worked here. Clean water and sanitation: ensure availability and sustainable management of water and sanitation for all.

Students were organized into teams of work and they decorated the school corridor with reused and recycled materials so as to express the concept of sustainability in a creative way.

In this way we could help students from other classes to understand this concept and we also meant to show that it’s very important to follow the 3Rs (reduce, reuse, recycle) at our school.

In the Technology course, two actions were carried out. First we designed ecological fabric bags made with old T-shirts.

This is how we aim to reduce our consumption and avoid the use of plastic bags.
Second, we did research on vertical gardens and made different models for our classrooms following the 3Rs.
These actions also involved using the Service-Learning methodology due to the contents of the course.

In the Music course the song “Depende de ti” (“It ‘s up to you”) was created.

En la misma han enseñado a los compañeros y compañeras de otras clases a hacer su propia bolsa de tela ecológica.

In the Nutrition Unit of Biology and Geology, we designed healthy and sustainable diets (Service-Learning methodology).

In this course they taught students from other classes how to make their own ecological fabric bag.

In PE the teacher gave a yoga session and an open air meditation (service-learning methodology)

The purpose of this action was to build awareness about how the choice of certain foods can reduce our consumption impact on the environment.

In Chemistry and Physics a study of renewable energies was developed

As a response to SDG 7, we studied the renewable energies and their use in both the production system and personal consumption. Affordable and clean energy: ensure access to affordable, reliable, sustainable and modern energy for all. (Service-Learning methodology).

In the Music course the song “Depende de ti” (“It ‘s up to you”) was created

It is about how we all are responsible for taking care of the Earth. We were lucky to make a video clip of the song with the children with different abilities from AVIVA Foundation. We understand sustainability and inclusion as two linked concepts when it comes to building a better and more humane world. (Service-learning methodology).

We announced the first Ubuntu Photography Competition called “Verde que te quiero verde” (Oh Green, how I love you).

We drew up participation rules and invited everyone to portray in photos the beauty of nature and the impact we people can have on it. The purpose of this activity was to give an answer to SDG 15. Life on land: sustainably manage forests, combat desertification, halt and reverse land degradation and keep biodiversity.

Together with all the students from bacclaureate and High school, we celebrated a number of international days so as to build awareness of climate emergency, of the impact of our consumption and production system on Earth, and of inequality among countries.

We specifically celebrated:
The Global Day of Climate Action: #NoMoreEmptyPromises M19 demands governments to get united and involved in the search for a solution to climate emergency. SDG 17. Partnerships for the goals. Revitalize the global partnership for sustainable development.
International Earth Day. SDG 13. Climate Action: take urgent action to combat climate change and its impacts.
Africa Day. SDG 10. Reduce inequalities: reduce inequalities within and among countries.

Building of UBUNTU Design for Change blog

This blog, which already got more than 10200 visits, shares reflections about our planet’s reality and the human impact on it. On the blog it is also possible to monitor this project and to read current news related to sustainability and ways to make our cities greener. In order to build this blog and to manage social media, we designated a communication team that was in charge of organizing both the contents and the technical part.

Creation of UBUNTU DFC Youtube Channel

The channel shows the different actions taken and how several people from our society support our challenge of making life more sustainable.

Opening of Instagram and Twitter accounts to give sustainability and nature an important role on social media

Encounter with Fridays for Future Salamanca

This was a very rewarding encounter for everyone because we learnt a lot on how to achieve more respectful consumption practices towards the environment, and because we were able to debate on the importance of Education and young people to stop climate emergency.

Proposal to the school Management Staff about creating a Sustainability Team.

The goal of this proposal is to have a school team of students, teachers, non-teaching staff, and families who can carry out initiatives and create a model green school.

Reception at the City Hall

We presented the project to the Salamanca Mayor and the Environment Councilwoman, and requested a bicycle parking space to cycle to school the following year.

Search for support and people who could contribute to our sustainability challenge.

We emailed this document to get people to know us:

Project presentation to our families

Students made an online presentation of the project to their families and invited them to join the challenge of making our lives more sustainable.
Presentation to the families:
Presentation video:

Celebration of the project and personal commitment to continue taking care of the Earth.

The last day of classes we celebrated dancing all together and making a mural with our painted hands as a symbol of our commitment to planet care.

Assessment and conclusions


The students’ academic achievement has improved. The research and reflective working method has been highly valued by students and their families.
The interdisciplinary and interschool work has been highly rich for everyone and has contributed to the competence development of the students.
An improvement of coexistence and shared leadership.

Things to improve

Integration of all the subjects into the project.
As long as the Covid protocols allow it, increase the open air interventions to take care of the environment.
The following assessment belongs to Rebeca Martín, one of the participating students:
"This project allowed me to become a better person. Learning about sustainability in depth has had an impact on me, and I have learnt to discuss and interchange ideas with my classmates."

Take this experience to your classroom!

Tips to adapt the experience to your classroom


Design for Change

Get trained on the Design for Change methodology based on Design Thinking.

Research and reflection on sustainability

The Geography and History course is essential to do the research and reflection on sustainability as a theoretical basis for the students to design activities that change their reality.

The teacher as facilitator

It is important that the Design for Change project include teachers as facilitators so the students can be protagonists of their own learning.

The teacher coordinates

It is very important to have a teacher as coordinator of the project in case there are various courses involved.

Integrate Design for Change in the curriculum

Integrating the Design for Change project into the courses curriculum contributes greatly to the students’ learning.

About the author

Eva Cazalla Sobrín

"Geography, History and Music teacher in Secondary and High School, musicologist and music therapist. Finalist Educa Abanca Awards 2020. Facilitator of Design for Change projects since 2015. Her studentswere finalists in all the editions of the I CAN SCHOOL CHALLENGE and the Spanish representatives in the International Gala BE THE CHANGE 2017 with the DFC project ""Without Limits"" on inclusion."
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