Climate change and environmental activism (4-2023)

2022-11-10

Editors: Maria Fernandes-Jesus*, Andrea Szukala** and Isabel Menezes***

* York St John University, UK

** Augsburg University, Germany

*** University of Porto, Portugal

Environmental activism about climate change has been at the core of social movements. Across the globe, activists engaged in demonstrations, organised strikes, occupied buildings of corporations and, more recently, performed targeted civil disobedience actions. Some of these activists are engaged in transnational organisations that share, not only slogans ('there is no planet B') and information, but also educate one another on the use of online and offline strategies. More notably than before, many of these movements involve and are led by children and young people, in a clear demonstration of their political agency - and their concerns about the future.

While this raises important questions about the role of schools and education in this existential crisis, the complexity of the situation is enhanced by other factors. The actions of governments and politicians have been erratic. For some, climate change is still debatable, ideological and 'fake news'. For others, promoting community resilience in the face of climate change is a new priority, but one that coexists with the maintenance of a carbon-based economy. As there are growing signs of the severe consequences of the rise in the planet's warming, there are also signs of the lack of serious policy regarding climate change. Furthermore, it seems that the climate challenge is one of these new issues that drive political polarisation and structure the culture wars about the curriculum and the role of (socio-)scientific knowledge in school and society in general.

On the other hand, the intensity of environmental injustice is immense and works across other layers of inequality: intergenerational, as many of these changes will dramatically affect future generations; geographical since the countries most troubled by climate change are not those who are contributing the most to global warming; colonialism, given the historical continuity of patterns of exploitation, displacement and extractivism; as well as the intersection with existing economic, gender, race and disability inequalities.

This special issue welcomes papers that address climate change and environmental activism from this broad perspective, focusing on political, social and economic education, its policies, goals, institutions, practices and challenges. This includes discussions of the civic and political identities and experiences of climate change activists, but also on the political controversies and debates around climate change. It also welcomes papers that address how formal and non-formal education for climate change can play a role in generating relevant knowledge, dispositions and actions, or in creating community resilience towards climate change. 

  • How does engagement with climate change activism influence participants’ civic and political agency and empowerment?
  • How are climate change controversies approached in educational settings and social and traditional media?
  • In what ways does climate change anxiety interfere with individual and community resilience about climate change regarding forms of dealing with it in diverse educational contexts?
  • In what forms are transnational and global activism taken up in educational contexts?
  • What are the effects of climate change formal and non-formal education in participants and communities? How are the knowledge and rationalities that have so far been deemed relevant in socio-scientific education being challenged, contested and changed?
  • Which transformative approaches to social science education are being further developed and how are these linked to the global education agenda setting, for example of UNESCO?
  • How does environmental injustice intersect with other layers of inequality and how is this interplay addressed in education?
  • How are minoritized groups and communities engaging in climate activism? How are links with capitalism, colonialism and globalisation explored in educational approaches to climate change?

We will be pleased to consider work that emerges from a single context (e.g., from one local, regional or national location) as well as from analyses that go across geographical and other areas including comparative perspectives.

The issue will contain:

  • An editorial in which key themes are highlighted and articles are briefly summarized;
  • 6 articles of between 6-9000 words;
  • 4-6 book reviews (each approximately 4-800 words long) on issues to do with climate change and environmental activism.

The following schedule applies to this issue:

  • Submission of papers by March 15, 2023
  • First round of review by May 31
  • Resubmissions by August 15
  • Second round of reviews by September 30
  • Final submissions by November 1
  • Publication by December 2023