From Anxiety to Insight to Action: How can we best support young people from diverse backgrounds to make their own response to the climate and ecological emergency?

What support do young people of diverse backgrounds need to deal with the climate and ecological emergency in their own way? This research explores how a process of learning, led by marginalised young people, can enable their voices to be heard in this sphere.

Image Credit: Joe Hill

While findings show young people of all backgrounds to be emotionally distressed by the climate and ecological emergency, the voices of marginalised young people are underrepresented in research and public discourse. Social movements of climate change activism have been criticised for predominantly engaging the white, middle class demographic.

This research project will explore the current mindset of marginalised young people regarding the unfolding climate and ecological situation. It will ask what types of knowledge and understanding young people feel they need in order to better deal with the issue, how they prefer to learn about these topics, and how the arts can facilitate this process.

What is being created?

The researchers will work together to produce a series of collaborative events for young people, combining traditional research approaches with a creative research activity centring around an installation. The installation will incorporate music, sound, visuals, artefacts and activities and will be designed to stimulate young people in their thoughts about the climate and ecological emergency, while also enabling them to develop their own responses to the issues raised.

Young people will be encouraged to articulate and disseminate their responses through blogs and other means, which will in turn be documented as a key aspect of the research project.

Who are the team and what do they bring?

  • Dr David Sands (Education) is interested in how marginalised young people can develop their own ideas regarding the climate and ecological emergency as active citizens of a democratic society.
  • Prof Richard Pancost (Earth Sciences) is interested in how scientific knowledge can be deployed so that marginalised young people can make well-informed and future-facing decisions.
  • Dr Myles-Jay Linton’s (Bristol Medical School, Education) interest lies in the effect of the climate change emergency on the wellbeing and mental health of young people and how this can be mitigated.
  • Dr Oscar Berglund’s (Policy Studies) interest lies in how young people develop political agency and non-violent forms of contestation within a climate change context.
  • Lauren Hennessy’s (Postgraduate student, teacher and Extinction Rebellion Activist) dissertation will focus on young people’s responses to the climate and ecological emergency.
  • Emma Cook and Amanda Colbourne (We the Curious) bring extensive experience and expertise in outreach work and in facilitating events and exhibitions that capture the interests of young people.
  • Joe Hill (Artist and Creative Youth Network) will shape the creative elements of this research.