Thesis Proposal Review Seminar The potential of schools to foster climate agency and transformation in regional Australia: a case study in Wagga Wagga, NSW

Crawford School of Public Policy | Resources, Environment and Development Group

Event details

PhD Seminar

Date & time

Thursday 30 November 2023


JG Crawford Building Lennox Room and Online Zoom


Tanja Russell


Kat Taylor


Climate change demands societal transformation if we are to constrain the rate of global warming and adapt to unfolding and imminent climate impacts. Young people, whose futures are disproportionately impacted by climate change, are often positioned as emerging leaders of society’s climate response. This assumes that they are equipped to step into this role, having the knowledge, practical skills and emotional fortitude to face a complex array of challenges. However, young Australians have described receiving an inadequate education about climate change, while experiencing distress related to climate change and society’s failure to address it. These experiences complicate young people’s participation in society’s climate responses. In this seminar, I discuss my proposed research program to be conducted in a regional Catholic high school in NSW. This school seeks to increase its focus on environmental issues including climate change, while supporting students’ agency and emotional wellbeing. Using Participatory Action Research and the principles of transformative education, I seek to explore the intersections between how young people think, feel and act in relation to climate change, while attending to the school and community context. I also seek to identify key opportunities and barriers that arise as the school embarks on what may be transformative change. Understanding student and teacher experiences in this process may yield important insights regarding the role of schools in supporting young people facing climate-altered futures, as well as their potential to inspire broader community action.

Bio Tanja Russell has previously worked in policy positions at the Murray-Darling Basin Authority and Australian Fisheries Management Authority. She also held a corporate role at CSIRO evaluating the social, economic and environmental impacts of research programs. Tanja is currently working at the ANU Institute for Climate, Energy and Disaster Solutions, contributing to projects examining climate adaptation in the agriculture sector of the Pacific.

PhD supervisory panel: A/Prof Rebecca Colvin (chair), Mrs Sharon Forwood; Dr Samantha Stanley; Prof Mark Howden; Prof Sango Mahanty; Prof Sharon Bessell.

Discussant: Sarah Boddington (PhD Candidate).

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