Young people at a crossroads: diverse voices contribute to new climate education resource

Young people at a crossroads“In recent years, we have heard a growing number of voices, young and old, saying that humanity is at a crossroads in terms of the path we take to tackle climate change.”

This quote introduces a new climate education resource for teachers, students and researchers. Entitled Young People at a Crossroads: Stories of climate education, action and adaptation from around the world. This beautifully illustrated resource collates the voices of 40 migrant-background 14-18-year-olds in Manchester and Melbourne who took part in the research project Young People at a Crossroads.

The research project was led by Dr Catherine Walker of the University of Manchester’s Sustainable Consumption Institute in partnership with researchers at the University of Melbourne. The team set out to explore and enable conversations about climate change in homes where, through migration, parents and young people grew up in times and places with different exposures to environmental challenges and different information about climate change.

The Sustainable Consumption Institute (SCI) is part of the University of Manchester and researches how reconfiguring consumption and production systems can contribute to less resource-intensive ways of life. SCI projects explore the social relationships that hinder change, as well as those that might enable the transition to greater sustainability. Underpinning such analyses is the recognition that greater environmental sustainability requires improved social justice and increased democratic participation.

Young people were offered interview skills training by the researchers and around one third of those who took part in school-based interviews and focus groups chose also to interview a parent. Common topics in the youth-led interviews were how parents’ experiences of environmental challenges had shaped the ways they interpreted information about climate change, how they had brought up children to be environmentally responsible and responsive, and what potential they saw for culturally diverse climate adaptation and resilience strategies. Having interviewed their parents, young people themselves reflected on these topics.

The resulting resource presents eleven young researcher reflections, each illustrated by the Manchester-based artist Maisy Summer, and a set of thematic summaries from the project. Designed as a teaching resource, it includes a teacher and student guide to the project and maps depicting families’ migration journeys.