Striking voices: Australian school-aged students’ climate justice activism

The challenge

Mass student-led climate justice activism emerged as a transnational phenomenon in 2018. This project aims to increase understanding of this phenomenon by exploring how Australian young people are taking action on climate change, the supports for their activism, and educational conditions of and responses to their climate concerns.

This project aims to increase understanding of this phenomenon by:

  • identifying the socio-political and environmental conditions for Australian school-aged students’ engagement in climate justice activism.
  • exploring how young people (aged between 10–22) have expressed their voices and taken action on climate change within and beyond schools through public strikes and in informal ‘everyday’ activism and analyse these emerging patterns of political engagement.
  • analysing how schools and educational systems are fostering and/or constraining school-aged student climate justice activism.

 

Project overview

The socio-political and environmental conditions for Australian school-aged students’ engagement in climate justice activism will be identified via interviews with 12–20 key organisers of youth climate organisations and adult allies. Fifteen to 25 student/ex-student strikers (10–22 years old) will be interviewed.

Four secondary school sites (two in NSW and two in Victoria) will be selected to develop portraits of each school’s ‘climate’ for climate activism. This will include interviews with teachers, school leaders and other adults; focus groups with students from multiple vantage points (e.g. Student Representative Council members, environmental groups, other students), and observations of selected classes (e.g. subjects where climate-related content is taught) and events in school life (e.g. school assemblies, ‘sustainability day’). A project booth will be set up in an accessible part of the school, where members of the school community will be invited to write, record themselves, or create a collage in response to the phrase: ‘Teaching and learning with climate change’.

Outcome

This project will lead to a greater understanding of emerging patterns of political engagement, and the development of educational capacity to engage young people and face urgent environmental challenges.

Expected outcomes include:

  • Co-creation of student-curated public website – ‘Striking voices’: This public-facing website will serve as a blog for project reflections and its student-curated archive of experiences (including photographs, screenshots, videos and student-curated narratives) will have an historical legacy.
  • Socially moving pedagogies framework and final report: The pedagogical framework, negotiated with participants/stakeholders at workshops, will become a resource for social movement organisations, educators, teacher education, for self-reflection on pedagogical practice and action. The final report will include findings, recommendations, case studies and portraits for reflection and action. These outcomes will strengthen existing student voice resources and will support the development of transdisciplinary and transgenerational climate change education.

Project team

Dr Eve Mayes

Funding

Australian Research Council Discovery Early Career Research Award (ARC DECRA).

$454,582.00

Timeline

2022 – 2024

More information

CCEN Member – Dr. Eve Mayes | The Climate Change Education Network Podcast Series (podbean.com)

Keywords

climate justice, student activism, climate change