Waves of change: inspiring youth climate action in Cornish coastal communities

Engaging young people in climate change research and empowering them to take positive climate action.

The challenge

This project brings together anthropology, marine biology and digital animation to engage young people (aged 15 to 18) in climate change research and empower them to take positive climate action.

The work will take place in Cornwall, where rising sea levels, CO2-driven acidification, warming and plastic pollution are threatening coastal communities and altering marine ecosystems that are already in decline.

Young people are at the forefront of these challenges, which threaten their dwelling environments and future lives, and their voices should be central to conservation efforts aimed at tackling climate change. Instead, they often remain at the receiving end of policy intervention and impact strategies – as evidenced by our partner, Young People Cornwall, who found that rising youth unemployment, funding cuts to youth centres, and the remote location of coastal communities are significantly affecting local youth and intensifying their sense of exclusion. And while young people could benefit greatly from an enhanced engagement with natural resources in Cornwall and conservation plans to protect them, they remain largely cut out from such plans.

What we're doing

We are exploring young people’s own perspectives and views of the future in times of climate emergency, and to think creatively with them about strategies to protect their costal environments. During four youth-led workshops at Newquay Youth Centre (October-December 2021), we will discuss the effects of climate change and co-produce an animated film through which the young participants will be able to share their views and concerns. 

How it helps

This project aims to amplify youth voices and raise public awareness about the climate emergency. We are also:

  • enhancing our understanding of climate change from young people’s perspectives;
  • finding strategies for young people to establish a sustainable future and protect their costal environments in Cornwall, where the effects of climate change are already tangible and require urgent action
  • bridging the gap between climate science and local knowledge through community engagement and by conducting youth-centred ethnographic research
  • enriching the range of research methodologies and approaches at the Cabot Institute;
  • building a strong network of collaborations between academics, industry partners (artists and animators) and NGO workers, enhancing the research strategy of both the Cabot Institute and UoB more broadly.

Investigators

  • Dr Camilla Morelli, Archaeology and Anthropology
  • Professor Dani Schmidt, Earth Sciences

Lead researcher profile

Dr Camilla Morelli, Department of Anthropology and Archaeology

Partner organisations

  • Sophie Marsh, animator
  • Lizzie Larbalestier, climate change activist
  • Young People Cornwall

Funders

  • EPSRC
  • GCRF Institutional Sponsorship
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