CfP POLLEN2022: Political ecology of education – climate youth and indigenous activism

Session organizers:

Matthias Kowasch (University College of Teacher Education Styria, Austria; Inland Norway University of Applied Sciences)

Jill Tove Buseth (Inland Norway University of Applied Sciences)

Session description:

The emergent political ecology of education provides fruitful ground for problematizing and re-imagining curricula and policy (Meek & Lloro-Bidart, 2017). But with growing awareness of climate change impacts, many citizens, especially young people, see an urgent need to act for a radical socio-ecological transformation – which curricula and textbooks do not promote.

Climate youth activists, such as Fridays for Future (FFF), challenge classical environmental and sustainability education (ESE) by questioning the existing economic growth paradigm and green gestures (Kowasch et al., 2021). FFF representatives emphasize the responsibility principle and claim that those who have caused the problems should pay for it. Such (radical) environmental justice approach (Benjaminsen & Svarstad, 2020) is also highlighted by indigenous environmental activist claims. Indigenous and local people have long valued, used, and shaped “high-value” biodiverse landscapes (Fletcher et al., 2021). They often advocate for the continuance and renewal of moral relationships of responsibility, spirituality, and justice (Whyte, 2018). Importantly, Kopnina (2020) and other scholars request the integration of indigenous worldviews and environmental justice into formal education.

In this session, we therefore ask how the various movements refer to environmental justice and responsibility. We seek to share ideas on how to integrate the debate into formal education. Moreover, we want to discuss the production of political ecology knowledge in different contexts. Potential contributions thus may focus on, but are not limited to, the following topics:

  • Perspectives, viewpoints and interaction of climate youth and indigenous activists
  • Climate and environmental activism in the Global North and South
  • Integration of climate and environmental activism into formal education
  • Political ecology knowledge production in formal and non-formal education
  • Environmental justice and the principle of responsibility approaches within activism and education
  • Gaps between environmental awareness, conflict and action

If you want to participate in this session, please submit a title, an abstract of maximum 250 words, and 3 keywords by 16th January 2022 to and

We invite academic scholars, policy makers, educators and (youth) activists from both the Global North and South to contribute with papers based on empirical studies to compare various case studies and/or with theoretical approaches. The papers should not be longer than 15 min and involve the audience to stimulate further exchange. We also welcome information regarding your positionality, so that we can consider a diversity of voices in the session.


Fletcher, M., Hamilton, R., Dressler, W., & Palmer, L. (2021). Indigenous knowledge and the shackles of wilderness. PNAS 118 (40) e2022218118; DOI: 10.1073/pnas.2022218118.

Kopnina, H. (2020). Education for the future? Critical evaluation of education for sustainable development goals. Journal of Environmental Education 51, 280–291.

Kowasch, M., Cruz, J.P., Reis, P., Gericke, N. & Kicker, K. (2021). Climate Youth Activism Initiatives: Motivations and Aims, and the Potential to Integrate Climate Activism into ESD and Transformative Learning. Special Issue “Youth Climate Activism and Sustainable Civic and Political Engagement”, Sustainability 13(21), 11581;

Meek, D. & Lloro-Bidart, T. (2017). Introduction: Synthesizing a political ecology of education, The Journal of Environmental Education, 48 (4), 213–225, DOI: 10.1080/00958964.2017.1340054

Svarstad, H. & Benjaminsen, T.A. (2020). Reading radical environmental justice through a political ecology lens. Geoforum 108, 1–11.

Whyte, K. (2018). Critical Investigations of Resilience: A Brief Introduction to Indigenous Environmental Studies & Sciences. Daedalus 147 (2), 136–147. DOI:

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