Accepted paper:

"Why it is crucial that we strike after all": rethinking environmental education through the prism of climate fear


Bianka Plüschke-Altof (Tallinn University)

Paper short abstract:

Against the backdrop of a terrifying tomorrow, environmental education often attempts sending positive messages to avoid environmental apathy. The mobilizing effect of the Fridays for Future movements' employment of climate fear however question the apathy hypothesis.

Paper long abstract:

To prepare for the terrifying tomorrow in the era of the Anthropocene, environmental education is seen as pivotal. While latest debates in the field emphasize the importance of positive messages in order to avoid apathy caused by environmental melancholia, the worldwide Fridays for Future strikes against climate destruction have mobilized youth and supporters globally by employing a doomsday and extinction scenario - thereby questioning the widely accepted apathy hypothesis. Considering that actually changing the environmental behavior of lay people and decision-makers has become a priority of environmental education as well as the effects of knowledge production on social practices and subjectivities, the presentation presents first results of a study with the Fridays For Future group in Estonia who - inspired by Grete Thunberg - organize school strikes, demonstrations and climate chains. By focusing on the mobilizing effects of the movement for the youth involved, it juxtaposes these results with current discussions on environmental learning that concentrate on positive messages (e.g. the "Nature Academy", environmental education centers) and a reconnection to nature (e.g. urban gardening, educating hiking trails) due to the ascribed negative effects of employing fear for the future.

panel B16
Future jeopardised: socialities and creations of the fear of climate change