High school students and their peers are in many ways unusually aware of the impact of climate change on their personal lives (and futures) compared to previous generations of young people. High school students (and other young people) live in a time when the consequences of carbon emissions are increasingly difficult for politicians and governments to ignore. As a result, this generation may feel particularly ignored or marginalized by institutions that are supposed to represent their interests. For example, a recent study by Bath University in 10 countries found that almost 60% of young people (aged 16-25) are very concerned about climate change, and two-thirds noted that they feel sad, scared, and anxious when thinking about the future (Hickman et al., 2021).
At the same time, "Eco-stress" caused by climate change is only now beginning to be documented (Usher, 2019). This suggests that more work needs to be done, not only to understand this phenomenon but also to give young people the opportunity to express their concerns.
Climate Future Fiction allows high school students to creatively express their partially unconscious concerns, hopes, and fears regarding climate change (and its possible impact on their individual futures). As part of a teaching course in English, the participating high school classes will do writing exercises within the cli-fi genre, where they must first write flash fiction and then rework them into short stories. The researchers will then have access to the students' products, which they can use in their research.
The researchers also invite the students into the research process and teach them how to analyze the short stories to find the young people's ideas about climate change and its significance for the future. The students then present their findings to the researchers at a closing event at SDU.
Climate Future Fiction thus combines high school teaching and research to illuminate and focus on young people's climate ideas.
In the autumn of 2022, four high schools with a total of nine classes will participate in a pilot project, which aims to test the sustainability of the project and the possibility of scaling up the number of participants in the teaching course in the future.
The participating researchers are:
• Bryan Yazell, Associate Professor, Department of Cultural Studies. Lecturer, DIAS.
• Patricia Wolf, Professor WSR, Department of Business Management. Professor WSR, Center for Integrating Innovation Management.
• Karl Attard, Lecturer, Nordcee, Danish Center for Hadal Research. Lecturer, DIAS.
The project is coordinated by SDU Citizen Science:
• Mette Fentz Haastrup, High School Coordinator, University Library of Southern Denmark, SDU Citizen Science
• Thomas Kaarsted, deputy director, University Library of Southern Denmark, SDU Citizen Science
• Line Laursen, Information Specialist, University Library of Southern Denmark, SDU Citizen Science
For further questions contact:
• Mette Fentz Haastrup: firstname.lastname@example.org
Hickman, C. et al. (2021). Young people's voices on climate anxiety, government betrayal and Moral injury: a global phenomenon. The Lancet (preprint). DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3918955
Usher K, Durkin J, Bhullar N. (2019). Eco‐anxiety: How thinking about climate change‐related environmental decline is affecting our mental health. Int J Mental Health Nursing, 28:1233-1234. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1111/inm.12673