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Public engagement concerning environmental and sustainability issues

Research theme I

Many of the most pressing sustainability problems, such as climate change, are anchored in people’s lifestyles and behaviors. To achieve a more sustainable society it, therefore, becomes important to understand these behaviors and everyday choices (consumption, recycling, energy saving, etc.), as well as more profound decisions that affect lifestyle changes in a sustainable direction. This can be seen as a precondition for communicating with different groups, to promote transformative learning, and to start to govern behaviors in a more sustainable direction. It is also important to get more knowledge about collective engagement, public support for political decisions, and power relationships in these processes of change. Additionally, we need more research about how to create constructive deliberative processes through which people learn to work with people from different backgrounds to solve these problems and to find creative and inclusive future visions. It is also important to take account of emotions, emotion regulation strategies, and aspects related to trust in people’s risk perception, not least due to a more polarized society. With its multidisciplinary profile CESSS has the capacity to contribute to this subfield with cutting-edge research.

In our research, we focus on different age-groups such as children, teenagers, young adults, and middle-aged people as well as on families, networks and organizations. Our methodological competence spans quantitative studies in the form of cross-sectional and longitudinal survey studies and experiments through to qualitative studies such as interview studies and text analyses (phenomenological and discourse analytical approaches).

Maria Ojala leads CESSS’s work on this theme.

Examples of publications in this theme (CESSS members are bolded):

Boström, M., Andersson, E., Berg, M., Gustafsson, K., Gustavsson, E., Hysing, E., Lidskog, R., Löfmarck, E., Ojala, M., Olsson, J., Singleton, B. E., Svenberg, S., Uggla, Y., & Öhman, J. (2018). Conditions for transformative learning for sustainable development: A theoretical review and approach. Sustainability, 10(12), 4479. More about the publication

Ojala, M. (2022). Prefiguring sustainable futures? Young people’s strategies to deal with conflicts about climate-friendly food choices and implications for transformative learning. Environmental Education Research, 28(8), 1157–1174. More about the publication

Ojala, M., & Bengtsson, H. (2019). Young people’s coping strategies concerning climate change: Relations to perceived communication with parents and friends and pro-environmental behavior. Environment and Behavior, 51(8), 907–935. More about the publication

Ojala, M., Cunsolo, A., Ogunbode, C., & Middleton, J. (2021). Anxiety, worry, and grief in a time of environmental and climate crisis: A narrative review. Annual Review of Environment and Resources, 46, 35–58. More about the publication

Soneryd, L., & Uggla, Y. (2015). Green governmentality and responsibilization: New forms of governance and responses to ‘consumer responsibility’. Environmental Politics, 24(6), 913–931. More about the publication

For more information on additional publications, visit each researcher’s individual web page, to which you find links in the tab ‘Researchers’ on CESSS’s start page.