Kuldeep Dantewadia

Ashoka Fellow
India,
Fellow Since 2013

Citation

This profile was prepared when Kuldeep Dantewadia was elected to the Ashoka Fellowship in 2013.
The New Idea
To create an environmentally aware and active generation, Kuldeep is designing a participatory method of learning about environmental issues. He increases children’s and youth’s empathy in a sustainable manner through long-term engagement and real-life problem-solving activities related to environmental issues. He takes children through a cycle of “why” (a problem exists), “how” (to create a solution), and “what” (are the expected outcomes and what needs to be done to achieve them). The children learn to co-create among themselves—as well as with adults—on a wide range of solutions, from simple actions such as fixing leaking taps to more ambitious projects, like creating biogas plants for their school. Kuldeep fuels their enthusiasm and creativity by having them track the impact of each and every solution they co-design and implement.

Kuldeep ensures that children cultivate learning and problem-solving as a routine habit through a combination of game mechanics, peer pressure, and buy-in from the community (teachers, parents, and neighbors). Children begin to exercise their learning by various means in their communities—some make their parents understand the importance of rainwater harvesting systems and get them to install home systems, while others perform home and computer energy audits to come up with solutions to optimize energy consumption.

Kuldeep believes that environmental issues are the best place to start teaching children the skill of applied empathy, by feeling and solving the problems of others. He believes if a child can master a level of empathy to understand, acknowledge, and solve an environmental problem which cannot be currently felt, it is only a matter of time before she/he solves problems faced by their peers and community.
The Problem
The Strategy
The Person

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