Exploring the impact of arts engagement on climate anxiety and to mobilise climate action in young people

by Francesca Hutchin

Provenance of the research: 

  1. Title of thesis/research question: Exploring the impact of arts engagement on climate anxiety and to mobilise climate action in young people.
  1. Type of thesis: undergraduate
  1. University affiliation: University of Birmingham
  1. Research timeframe: October 2022 – February 2023

1. Abstract/Summary: 

This study explores the impact of young people engaging in climate change-linked art on their feelings of climate anxiety, as well as their motivation, capacity, and mobilisation for climate action. It aims to investigate the impact (and potential) of arts engagement to support and mobilise young people in the climate crisis in response to research highlighting young people’s unique position in the climate crisis, and the disproportionate levels of climate anxiety within young people compared to older demographics. This research uses a qualitative mixed-method approach in order to explore young people’s experiences of climate change arts engagement. An inductive approach to thematic analysis is used in order to build knowledge and highlight patterns in an emerging area of research.

This study found that arts engagement has a positive impact on young people’s self-efficacy, climate hope and mobilisation for climate action through providing a medium of expression, processing, and engagement. This highlights the need for further research around the topics of arts engagement in supporting and mobilising people in the climate crisis, as well as research on ways to support young people to cope with feelings and emotions linked to climate change. 

2. What were the most important or surprising findings of your work?

One important thing that emerged in my research was how important and powerful arts can be for health and community, and the role they can play in the climate crisis. This helped me to understand how both climate and arts organisations can explore this in an impactful way.

3. What did you struggle with during the research and/or writing process, and how did you overcome these issues?

The thing I struggled with most was beginning the research. At the start everything seems so vast, overwhelming, and unobtainable. It can be hard to even know when or where to start. Once I started everything seemed to make more sense, and feel less overwhelming. 

4. What are you doing now, and what are your plans for the coming year?

I’m currently studying for my Masters degree in Climate change: Environment, Science and Policy, as well as campaigning for Climate justice for UKYCC and working on various other projects. 

5. Following the above, did your research impact those plans in any way?

I have since worked for arts organisations on Climate change/Environmental linked policies which I have really enjoyed. This is something I am interested in continuing in the future.

6. Do you have any advice for people who are undertaking this type of research?

The hardest part is finding your question and starting the research. Once you begin it all starts to make more sense and the path to completing it seems a lot clearer.

Author bio:

Francesca Hutchin is a University of Birmingham Geography graduate and is currently undertaking a Masters in Climate change at King’s College London. She has worked in various fields of climate change and action including research, community outreach, communications, and policy. She is passionate about the intersection between arts and Climate change, and Climate justice.

Categories Student Work

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