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Special Issue "Youth Climate Activism and Sustainable Civic and Political Engagement"

A special issue of Sustainability (ISSN 2071-1050). This special issue belongs to the section "Psychology of Sustainability and Sustainable Development".

Deadline for manuscript submissions: 30 November 2022 | Viewed by 7104

Special Issue Editors

Prof. Dr. Elvira Cicognani
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
Department of Psychology, University of Bologna, 33, 40126 Bologna BO, Italy
Interests: young people’s civic and political engagement and participation; community participation; pro-environmental behaviours; environmental activism; psychosocial well being; sense of community; global citizenship; community-based health promotion; behavioural change; community-based participatory action research; youth-led participatory action research; prevention and health promotion
Dr. Maria Fernandes-Jesus
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
School of Education, Language and Psychology, York St John University, York YO31 7EX, UK
Interests: young people’s political engagement; climate justice and political participation; community solidarity and mutual aid; collective action; social resistance and empowerment; environmental movements; community-based participatory research

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

Youth civic and political engagement, the factors and processes that expain why and how young people mobilise to address social issues in their local communities, as well as more global issues (e.g., climate change) have been topics of considerable interest and have been addressed from a range of disciplinary and theoretical perspectives and using different methodological approaches (quantitative, qualitative, etc.), including civic and citizenship education interventions. However, while youth climate activism have been increasing in quantity and scale, we know little about young people’s voices, political agency and knowledge around climate change, their motives for participating, and the emotional aspects related to their engagement. This Special Issue aims to collect theoretical and empirical contributions, as well as evaluations of participatory interventions, focusing on “sustainable” youth engagement and participation. Two aspects of the concept will be considered: (a) youth civic and political engagement on sustainability issues (e.g., environmental issues, climate change, social justice) and (b) what factors and processes make youth civic and political engagement and activism “sustainable” (sustainability of the process of participation, in terms of its quality and impact on the participants and on external conditions, e.g., social change). We are interested in contributions addressing different forms and means of participation (individual, collective; online and ICT-supported engagement; etc.) that can illuminate the factors and processes that explain youth engagement with environmental and climate-change-related issues and its persistence, as well as its impact on internal and external conditions. We encourage contributions using mixed methods and following interdisciplinary and participatory approaches.

Prof. Dr. Elvira Cicognani
Dr. Maria Fernandes-Jesus
Guest Editors

Manuscript Submission Information

Manuscripts should be submitted online at www.mdpi.com by registering and logging in to this website. Once you are registered, click here to go to the submission form. Manuscripts can be submitted until the deadline. All submissions that pass pre-check are peer-reviewed. Accepted papers will be published continuously in the journal (as soon as accepted) and will be listed together on the special issue website. Research articles, review articles as well as short communications are invited. For planned papers, a title and short abstract (about 100 words) can be sent to the Editorial Office for announcement on this website.

Submitted manuscripts should not have been published previously, nor be under consideration for publication elsewhere (except conference proceedings papers). All manuscripts are thoroughly refereed through a single-blind peer-review process. A guide for authors and other relevant information for submission of manuscripts is available on the Instructions for Authors page. Sustainability is an international peer-reviewed open access semimonthly journal published by MDPI.

Please visit the Instructions for Authors page before submitting a manuscript. The Article Processing Charge (APC) for publication in this open access journal is 2000 CHF (Swiss Francs). Submitted papers should be well formatted and use good English. Authors may use MDPI's English editing service prior to publication or during author revisions.

Keywords

  • climate change
  • environmental activism
  • youth
  • civic engagement
  • political engagement
  • collective action
  • pro-environmental behaviour
  • behavioural change
  • psychosocial factors
  • sustainability
  • environmental citizenship
  • sense of global community
  • sense of responsibility

Published Papers (5 papers)

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Research

Article
What Can We Learn from Rural Youth in British Columbia, Canada? Environment and Climate Change—Issues and Solutions
Sustainability 2021, 13(24), 13562; https://doi.org/10.3390/su132413562 - 08 Dec 2021
Viewed by 728
Abstract
“What can we learn from rural youth?” was a youth-led arts-based participatory action research project carried out to understand and facilitate positive youth development in two rural communities in the province of British Columbia, Canada. Data was collected using photovoice, visual art, journal [...] Read more.
“What can we learn from rural youth?” was a youth-led arts-based participatory action research project carried out to understand and facilitate positive youth development in two rural communities in the province of British Columbia, Canada. Data was collected using photovoice, visual art, journal reflections, and group discussions. During the study, youth expressed a strong connection with nature for their development or wellbeing. Issues such as environmental degradation and climate change were identified as causes for concern. They discussed human responsibility for environmental stewardship both in their local communities and globally. Climate change hazards such as flood and fire, human action leading to environmental pollution, and human responsibility for environmental stewardship surfaced as issues for their development. Youth expressed a felt responsibility to act on climate change and to reduce the anthropogenic impact on the Earth. Based on youth voices, we conclude that attempts to engage youth in climate action without considering their psychosocial wellbeing, may overburden them. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Youth Climate Activism and Sustainable Civic and Political Engagement)
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Article
Reimagining African Women Youth Climate Activism: The Case of Vanessa Nakate
Sustainability 2021, 13(23), 13214; https://doi.org/10.3390/su132313214 - 29 Nov 2021
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 875
Abstract
African women youth climate activists are marginalised in mainstream climate activism. There is very little scholarly work done on this group, specifically on how their agency is deployed in the context of extreme undermining. Based on a case study of the activism of [...] Read more.
African women youth climate activists are marginalised in mainstream climate activism. There is very little scholarly work done on this group, specifically on how their agency is deployed in the context of extreme undermining. Based on a case study of the activism of Vanessa Nakate, this paper analyses online interviews, media reports and social media interactions. The text was analysed thematically. The paper identifies three social binds (location, gender, and youth) that limit her activism. Importantly, the findings show how she deploys context-dependent agency to overcome those binds. The paper offers practical and theoretical insights for the study of African women climate activism. I argue that understanding and developing personal and political agency is essential for the sustainability of African women youth climate activism. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Youth Climate Activism and Sustainable Civic and Political Engagement)
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Article
Climate Youth Activism Initiatives: Motivations and Aims, and the Potential to Integrate Climate Activism into ESD and Transformative Learning
Sustainability 2021, 13(21), 11581; https://doi.org/10.3390/su132111581 - 20 Oct 2021
Cited by 4 | Viewed by 1714
Abstract
For about two years, the climate youth activism initiative Fridays for Future has addressed climate emergency, receiving considerable attention because of their consistent protests every week in many different locations worldwide. Based on empirical studies in Austria and Portugal, this paper investigates the [...] Read more.
For about two years, the climate youth activism initiative Fridays for Future has addressed climate emergency, receiving considerable attention because of their consistent protests every week in many different locations worldwide. Based on empirical studies in Austria and Portugal, this paper investigates the motivations of students to participate in the movement and the solutions proposed by young activists to fight against climate emergency. Moreover, we discuss the integration of climate change activism into ESD (education for sustainable development) and transformative learning processes, and how this enables environmental citizenship. The results of the studies reveal that emotions and feelings of solidarity and collective aims are motives to participate in the strikes. The young activists sometimes propose innovative and sometimes radical solutions to climate emergency. Both demonstrations and exhibitions as forms of bottom-up climate activism initiatives contribute to engagement in political dialogue and scientific knowledge transfer. They can be seen as “triggers of change” for transformative learning. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Youth Climate Activism and Sustainable Civic and Political Engagement)
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Article
“These Are the Very Small Things That Lead Us to That Goal”: Youth Climate Strike Organizers Talk about Activism Empowering and Taxing Experiences
Sustainability 2021, 13(19), 11119; https://doi.org/10.3390/su131911119 - 08 Oct 2021
Cited by 3 | Viewed by 942
Abstract
Climate change is one of the most pressing issues we face, and the Fridays for Future wave of protests is unique both in its youth character and global reach. However, still not enough is known about how young activists experience their involvement and [...] Read more.
Climate change is one of the most pressing issues we face, and the Fridays for Future wave of protests is unique both in its youth character and global reach. However, still not enough is known about how young activists experience their involvement and how the experience of climate activism connects to their personal development and psychological well-being. To gain an enhanced understanding of this issue, we conducted a qualitative study based on eight in-depth interviews with individuals deeply involved in the Youth Climate Strike in Poland. We analyzed the interviews using a rigorous multi-stage thematic analysis. Results showed that the empowering aspects of activism were associated with a heightened sense of agency, a sense of belonging to a community, a sense of duty and ethical integrity, of finding one’s voice and learning new skills, and a sense of personal growth. Activists also indicated aggravating aspects of involvement, such as involving the struggle for balance between activism and other spheres of life, overwork, and conflicts within a peer group. In conclusion, in contrast to the pressing nature of the climate change conundrum, climate activism is often experienced by its young participants as a mostly empowering experience. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Youth Climate Activism and Sustainable Civic and Political Engagement)
Article
Digital Issue Movements: Political Repertoires and Drivers of Participation among Belgian Youth in the Context of ‘School Strike for Climate’
Sustainability 2021, 13(17), 9892; https://doi.org/10.3390/su13179892 - 02 Sep 2021
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 1251
Abstract
It often remains unclear how young citizens are combining various forms of political participation, as well as why they choose some over others, especially within a single-issue movement. Moreover, little is known about how social networking sites (SNS) fit into the political repertoires [...] Read more.
It often remains unclear how young citizens are combining various forms of political participation, as well as why they choose some over others, especially within a single-issue movement. Moreover, little is known about how social networking sites (SNS) fit into the political repertoires of citizens. Therefore, this study explores youths’ political participation patterns in the context of the 2019 youth-led climate strikes. We rely on data from a paper and pencil survey among 498 high school students in Belgium. To identify different types of activists, the study used latent class analysis (LCA). In addition, a multinomial logistic regression was conducted to assess how identified participation types differ from each other. Four different participation repertoires regarding the climate issue were identified, each distinctive in the way they rely on different forms of political participation. In addition, membership to each of the different classes is associated with a unique set of characteristics (in terms of political efficacies, climate issue involvement, and online expression motives). The article shows how SNS make up a crucial part of youths’ issue-specific participation patterns and sheds light on the mechanisms underlying their participation choices within the climate movement. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Youth Climate Activism and Sustainable Civic and Political Engagement)
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