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? 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?
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.
What did the project involve?
This research project explored the current mindset of marginalised young people regarding the unfolding climate and ecological situation. It asked 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.
The researchers worked 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 incorporated music, sound, visuals, artefacts and activities and was 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 were encouraged to articulate and disseminate their responses through blogs and other means, which were turn be documented as a key aspect of the research project.
Who are the team and what do they bring?
- David Sands (Education, University of Bristol) is a researcher interested in how marginalised young people can develop their own ideas regarding the climate and ecological emergency as active citizens of a democratic society.
- Richard Pancost (University of Bristol, Earth Sciences) is interested in how scientific knowledge can be deployed so that marginalised young people can make well-informed and future-facing decisions.
- Myles-Jay Linton (Bristol Medical School) focuses on the effect of the climate change emergency on the wellbeing and mental health of young people and how this can be mitigated.
- Oscar Berglund (Policy Studies, University of Bristol) is a researcher exploring how young people develop political agency and non-violent forms of contestation within a climate change context.
- Lauren Hennessy’s (Education, University of Bristol) was at the time of this project working on her dissertation that focused 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) shaped the creative elements of this research.
What were the results?
The research team compiled a final ‘Anxiety to Action Report’ to disseminate their findings and the process of their research. They also developed their findings into the policy report ‘Telling local stories: New routes of climate change and nature communication in Bristol‘ for PolicyBristol.
Off of the success of this project the team were awarded further funding from the Cabot Institute for the Environment to continue their research.