30 SES 08 B, Environmental Citizenship
Research question: What characteristics do Scottish young people attribute to environmental citizens?
As young people engage in marches and strikes to call for action on climate change, it is clear that the relationship between politics, education and the environment is coming under ever greater scrutiny. With policy documents from Europe (EU-Roadmap 2050) highlighting the role of citizens in moving towards a greener future, understanding what ‘environmental citizenship’ is and how it can be developed through educational programming is important in dealing with the current complex environmental challenges (Hadjichabis et al, 2020). Debates in the media around for example, the issues of single use plastics highlight the interconnected and complex issues of resource sustainability and the responsibility of individuals within existing socio-economic structures in tackling these issues (Dimick, 2015). Young people are increasingly aware of the need to act in order to enact change in the way humans relate to each other and the natural world, however what this action should entail, and the role of formal education in achieving this are not always clear (Collucci-Grey et al 2013).
Environmental citizenship, while a contested term, can be defined within the participatory citizenship field as taking “a personal and positive action” for environment (Hobson, 2013) and Hadjichambis et al (2020) expand this to include “pro-environmental behaviour of citizens who act and participate in society as agents of change”. In adults, this can be observed in public ways through voting or consumer behaviours however young people do not have the same independence or autonomy in participatory citizenship. Reis (2020) suggests that Citizen Science as a pedagogical approach can promote and develop students’ skills in contributing as active citizens in their communities. This research takes place within a PhD study looking to understand if and how enabling active environmental citizenship through citizen science projects in formal schooling has the potential to enable young people to identify the individual and societal changes that are needed to enact effective environmental change.
Children have a different perspective to adults in relation to ‘citizenship’ and ‘environment’. The consideration of citizenship from a legal, rights-based approach does not account for the ways in which children act within and belong to communities and their environment. Hayward (2012) suggests that while children experience ecology and environment in a fluid and complex series of experiences, the adult framing and language used is contrary to this and emphasises the distinction between the human and non-human world. Kallio, Wood and Hakli (2020) describe lived citizenship in a way that considers the effect of citizenship in real life situations rather than the formal legal status of citizenship. This research draws upon this conception placing the embodied experience and acts of citizenship in daily life at its core. It exposes the experiences of traditionally excluded groups and is a useful way of making visible the challenges surrounding young people and their role as citizens, in particular in relation to the environment and environmental action.
Four dimensions of lived citizenship, described by Kallio, Wood and Hakli (2020) are applied throughout this study, informing the development of the personas used in the data collection and subsequently in the analysis of the young people’s reasoning, these are:
- Spatial, the context and circumstances of life, highlighting the connections between public and private worlds,
- Intersubjectivity, the intergenerational, interpersonal and relational experiences of citizenship,
- Performed, the actions and practices associated with citizenship, these can be individual/group and formal/informal,
- and, affective, the feelings associated with being a citizen.
Five personas (Neilson, 2019) were developed that present typified young people demonstrating a range of environmental citizenship related attitudes and behaviours. The descriptions included aspects that could be assigned to the four dimensions of lived citizenship; spatial, interpersonal, performed and affective elements. Two were designed to typify extreme cases of pro- and non-environmental citizenship, the three remaining personas mixed up the characteristics, with each having a greater emphasis on either the interpersonal, performed or affective elements. The personas ranged from 12 – 16 to fit with the Scottish secondary school age-group, and there were two boys and three girls described. The value of using personas in this research is that implicit characteristics around environmental citizenship, such as feelings or family circumstances, can be made explicit, challenging the participants to consider the difference, if any, that each element makes. The pupils (n = 34) were studying Advanced Higher Biology or H/AH Geography and consisted of pupils participating in the researcher’s Citizen Science PhD research project. In an online survey, they were asked to give each persona a score out of ten, where 10 was the most complete ‘environmental citizen’ that they could imagine, and then to provide reasons for each score. Analysis The use of personas is typically found within the digital design world, as Lewis et al (2016) describe, to understand the characteristics and motivations of service users to better meet their needs. Haklay et al (2019) utlised a similar approach, the use of vignettes, to more accurately identify what the ‘characteristics of citizen science’ were. Theming the analysis of the identified characteristics of ‘environmental citizens’ according to the young people across the four dimensions of lived citizenship as defined by Kallio, Wood and Hakli (2020) enables the exposition of the environmental priorities and judgements of the young people. The implications of this for citizen science in particular in relation to formal education will be considered in depth. The average ‘environmental citizen’ scores for each persona were calculated and any differences noted between the pupils who had participated in the citizen science activity and those who had not. To more deeply understand the reasons why the pupils had attributed each persona score, the reasons were collated according to the assigned scores and then a thematic analysis undertaken. The four concepts of lived citizenship were used to interrogate the data, with positive and negative aspects of each category scored within each response.
This is part of an ESRC funded research project which looks to understand the impact of environmental citizen science on environmental citizenship. This strand of the research looks to more deeply understand what young people understand of the concept of environmental citizenship. These findings will enable both education and citizen science practitioners to consider the impact of utilising citizen science pedagogies to provide both learning opportunities and to encourage civic participation (Turrini et al 2018). Analysis is ongoing however, there are emerging findings that suggest differences in the ‘environmental citizen score’ can be understood as a result of the participants interpretation of the ‘performed’ and the ‘interpersonal’ dimensions. Performed acts such as recycling were framed in a number of ways to attempt to understand if the impact of, e.g. payment or peer pressure had an influence on the pupils’ interpretation. Initial findings suggest that while highly rated personas were found to have high positive performed values, why ‘they did it’ impacted on the score. In the interpersonal dimension, communicating with different audiences; peers, parents and the school community were included to provide comparison in the different communication approaches. Initial findings show that the difference between the highest rated personas related to positive interpersonal values, while positive action was considered important, communicating to and with others elevated one persona over all the others. Ordinary elements of young people’s lives, such as travelling to school, where they live, and their hobbies were included to provide spatial and contextual depth. Finally, emotions such as concern, care, and embarrassment enhance the empathy that the participants may feel for these imagined young people. The presentation will outline the findings across all four lived citizenship dimensions and draw conclusion about the characteristics that young people feel are key in identifying an environmental citizen.
Colluci-Gray, L., Perazzone, A., Dodman, M. and Camino, E., (2013) Science education for sustainability, epistemological reflections and educational practices: from natural sciences to trans-disciplinarity. Cultural Studies of Science Education. 8:127 – 183 Dimick, A. S. (2015) Supporting Youth to Develop Environmental Citizenship within/against a Neoliberal Context. Environmental Education Research. 21(3): 390 – 402 Hadjichambis, A and Reis, P. (2020) Introduction to the Conceptualisation of Environmental Citizenship for Twenty-First-Century Education, in Hadjichambis, A., Reis, P., Paraskeva-Hadjichambi, D., Cincera, J., Boeve-de Pauw, J., Gericke, N. and Knippels, MC. (eds) (2020) Conceptualising Environmental Citizenship for 21st Century Education, SpringerOpen Hayward, B. (2012) Children, Citizenship and Environment: Nurturing a Democratic Imagination in a Changing World, Routledge Kallio, K. P., Wood, B. E., & Häkli, J. (2020) Lived citizenship: Conceptualising an emerging field. Citizenship studies, 1-17 Nielson, L. (2019) Personas – User Focused Design 2nd Ed. Springer, London Reis, P (2020) Environmental Citizenship and Youth Activism, in, Hadjichambis, A., Reis, P., Paraskeva-Hadjichambi, D., Cincera, J., Boeve-de Pauw, J., Gericke, N. and Knippels, MC. (eds) (2020) Conceptualising Environmental Citizenship for 21st Century Education, SpringerOpen Turrini, T., Dorler, D., Richter, A., Heigl, F. and Bonn, A. (2018) The threefold potential of environmental citizen science – Generating knowledge, creating learning opportunities and enabling civic participation. Biological Conservation. 225:176 – 186
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