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Open Access Engaging young children with climate change and climate justice

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Meeting the global challenge of preventing global temperatures rising by more than two degrees Celsius by the end of the century is not going to be easy. With the majority of carbon emissions coming from the developed nations, there is an onus of responsibility on these nations to support the developing nations, who have contributed the least. This would be a significant step towards delivering climate justice. This article demonstrates that gaining traction and support for climate justice can be achieved through the power of education, by translating contemporary research for children, connecting them with it and embedding them in it. Working with 154 primary school children in Glasgow, this article provides: (1) an overview of a climate justice research project, Water for ALL, which was conducted in Malawi and Zambia; and (2) reflection on the challenges of translating the research findings for use in the classroom so it becomes not only meaningful but personally engages children with current issues of climate in/justice. Our findings highlight that it is possible to connect children not only with a complex topic, but also with research findings through the development of practical learning classroom exercises. Arriving at those classroom exercises is a 'process' that requires putting the research through a process of translation and communication before it can be shared with children. The interface between research and education lends itself to the power of practically based science-led education. As shown in this example, the Water for ALL research project has given the school children a sense of 'ownership' of climate change and climate in/justice, to the extent that they can highlight their role and contributions to addressing the climate challenge.

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Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: January 1, 2018

More about this publication?
  • Research for All is a peer-reviewed journal focusing on research that involves universities and communities, services or industries working together. Contributors and readers are from both inside and outside of higher education. They include researchers, policymakers, managers, practitioners, community-based organizations, schools, businesses and the intermediaries who bring these people together. The journal highlights the potential in active public engagement for robust academic study, for the development of involved communities, and for the impact of research. It explores engagement with different groups and their cultures, and features theoretical and empirical analysis alongside authoritative commentary to explore a range of themes that are key to engaged research including the development of reciprocal relationships, sector-specific communication and participatory action research. The journal is co-sponsored by the UCL Institute of Education and the National Co-ordinating Centre for Public Engagement.

    Research for All is supporting the 16th International conference for Public Communication of Science and Technology being held in Aberdeen, Scotland, UK, 26–28 May 2020. Authors of contributions presented at the conference are invited subsequently to submit papers to Research for All for a special feature on Public Communication of Science and Technology.

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