UBC Theses and Dissertations

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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Exploring ecojustice learning among youth Parker, Rebekah


Ecojustice theory, as described by Martusewicz, Emundson, & Lupinacci (2011), consists of three threads: understanding the interdependence of local and global ecosystems, deep cultural analysis of Western thinking and in situ systems, and “need to restore the cultural and environmental commons” (p. 20). Working with youth (15-18 years) at the Pearson Seminar on Youth Leadership (PSYL), an environmental and social justice leadership program, this research project focuses on how youth respond to and share ecojustice learnings beyond the classroom setting, and how it might inform ecojustice pedagogy. Through journal reflections, Forum Theatre (Boal, 2002), and narrative inquiry, this thesis explores methods youth use for sharing their understandings of ecojustice with their families, friends and communities. Synthesis/analysis of data includes a “dataplay” (O’Riley, 2003) where participants’ “data” is presented as conversations in an interactive script and responded to by the participants. This changes the power relations between actor and observer as well as scripted and spontaneous intervention within the research process. The youth participants articulated a desire to overcome apathy among some of their peers, together with a need to develop strategies for having (at times) difficult conversations about social justice and ecological justice concerns around the world. They expressed feelings of guilt and fear, together with a strong desire to create change when addressing systemic global issues like climate change and out of control consumerism. Storytelling, other creative engagements with the issues being dealt with, and personal conversations were offered as possible pedagogic solutions. The students also explored the emotional effects of working with difficult issues. The youth’s responses call on PSYL educators to address ecojustice issues in their teaching, as well as possibilities for actions that the youth can implement in their local communities.

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