On Monday 14 September 2015 we launched the FutureCoast Youth project at Dorothy Stringer School, Brighton UK.
Members of the project team (Keith Ellis, Julie Doyle and Jack Darach) met with the 12 Environmental Science GCSE students. Aged 14-15 years old, there were 6 girls and 6 boys.
We explained to the students the rules of play: that when they entered the room they were members of the FutureCoast Youth team and that for the following hour they would be focused solely on the issue of climate change; exploring their feelings and finding forms of positive action and solutions to this issue.
Prior to this workshop, the students had already been given a project information sheet and signed the necessary consent forms to participate, so the first workshop was centred around finding out what they knew about climate change in order to help structure the subsequent workshops.
Although the students were quite quiet, they did contribute to the discussion and showed us that they already had some understanding of the basic facts of climate change causes, effects, solutions and challenges to those solutions. (Mind Map below) The ‘challenges’ part of the conversation was where the conversation became more open ended and interesting.
Talking about how climate change is communicated was good albeit a fairly new idea for them and it was easier to talk about what doesn’t work. We mentioned how statistics can be detached from everyday life and facts about glaciers can seem similarly distant. And although an image of a polar bear on thin ice can evoke a feeling of wanting to protect the bear it’s frustrating to not be able to directly help.
We then introduced the ideas of imagination and story based communication. ‘You can’t make changes or create new ideas unless you imagine it first’.
For the last 10 minutes we explained the premise of the project – that it was based upon and inspired by the FutureCoast online digital storytelling project. We explained that the focus upon young people’s perceptions and views on climate change is what makes the FutureCoast Youth project special, as this is an area of research often overlooked. We explained that the project would culminate in them presenting their ideas in ‘play’ at the Onca Centre for Arts and Ecology on Monday 30 November 2015, to coincide with COP21.
Before the end of the session we explained that next time we would see them would be at Onca for the FutureCoast event where they would experience FutureCoast through play and storytelling.
We then set them this homework question:
As we have seen, Climate Change is not just a scientific issue. The climate isn’t the only thing that is changing. The causes and effects of climate change are cultural, political and financial including people’s everyday lives. Can you come up with a better term to describe climate change? Please explain your answer.
(see blog entry ‘New names for climate change’ for students responses)
The session lasted 60 minutes and was filmed and recorded.
We covered what we wanted to cover. Next session, as well as getting the students to feed back about the FutureCost Youth launch event at Onca and listening to a couple of voicemails they have produced, we will move into a more dynamic mode. More fun, group work, physical, playful activities.
Blog written by Keith Ellis and Julie Doyle