Climate Country

students researching

Climate Country: Advancing Child and Youth-led Climate Change Education with Country

Climate change education is in its infancy. By co-researching with Indigenous and non-Indigenous children, youth, and Elders across Australia and Canada, this project conceptualises and advances climate change education with Country. Climate change education is not adequately understood within Western science. Western perspectives on climate crises are in deep contrast to Indigenous perspectives enmeshed in continuous storying with descendants, ancestors, and Country. Collaborating with Elders, this project will generate child and youth-led transcultural curriculum and pedagogical understandings of climate change education with Country. It delivers on the United Nations Convention on Climate Change through corresponding quality education.

Why is this Research Important?

Australia is a signatory to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCC, 1992) with obligations to develop ensuing climate change education policy. However, there is currently no Australian government climate change education policy nor corresponding school-based curriculum and pedagogy. This is in a context where young people are increasingly exposed to apocalyptic visions and lived experiences of the disastrous impacts of climate change, causing existential anxiety. This project aims to empower children and youth (5-18 years) to generate new understandings of inherited Indigenous and Western climate change knowledge in advancing climate change education. Alongside academic and community impact outcomes, this significant knowledge will be translated into a co-designed child and youth-led climate change education policy statement and a corresponding curriculum and pedagogical framework for teaching and learning climate change with Country in primary and secondary schools. This important connection of Indigenous knowledges with Western sciences will enable the next generation of Australians to confidently adapt to the impacts of environmental change. This novel project delivers on Australia’s UNFCC commitments and the 2030 United Nations Agenda for Sustainable Development by engaging with Indigenous and non-Indigenous children, youth, and Elders through building transcultural knowledge and capacity for quality education in climate change with Country.

Research Phases

The phase we are currently in is highlighted below:

Phase 1 – Set up of Indigenous Advisory teams in Australia and Canada and recruitment of PhD student, postdoctoral scholars, and research participants.

Phase 2 – Run research-training workshops with the youth.

Phase 3 – Child and youth researchers generate data.

Phase 4 – Hold analytical think tanks and exhibitions of work created in the research phase.

Phase 5 – Write a child-framed climate change education policy statement and corresponding curriculum and pedagogical framework for age groups 5-9 years old, 10-14 years old, and 15-18 years old.


The Research Team

This project is being led by researchers with a significant international reputation in the area of climate change education including:

Chief Investigators

Professor Amy Cutter-Mackenzie-Knowles (SCU)

Professor Tracey Bunda (UQ)

Professor Alexandra Lasczik (SCU)

Associate Professor Louise Phillips (SCU)

Adjunct Professor Kim Snepvangers (UNSW/SCU)

Partner Investigators

Professor Dr Rita Irwin (UBC)

Dr Shannon Leddy (UBC)

Postdoctoral Researchers

Dr Chantelle Bayes (SCU)

Research Partners

This research is supported by an Australian Research Council Discovery Grant (DP240100968). The project is being hosted at Southern Cross University in partnership with the University of Queensland and The University of British Columbia.

PhD Candidate

A PhD project will take place alongside the main project. This will be focused on parents (of the child/youth researchers) and their complex relations with Country in response to rapid climate change and through the inheritance of a colonised Australia.