2011 International Science Communication Symposium
Elin featured on the main stage and the local pub!
2010 European Council of International Schools
Elin delivers keynote at annual conference on "Moving beyond Doom and Gloom"
An essay on This I Believe website
Guest blog on WorldChanging.com
"Conversations about Hope and Climate Change"
Elin facilitates workshops on hope and the environment for the Monterey Bay Aquarium, and others. Click here to arrange a facilitation event for your organization or meeting.
Elin facilitated workshops on hope and the environment for an international gathering of children in Norway.
"Reflections on Hope through the Eyes and Words of Children"
Elin served as author in residence and led a school wide photography and writing project on hope and the environment for Crofton House School.
November 2015 UPDATE: Huffington Post and World Bank now sharing hopeful ocean solutions on #OceanOptimism.
How do we shift beyond "doom and gloom"? Read what these international academics write in their personal letters in a 2014 publication from the Rachel Carson Center for Environment and Society
LISTEN to CBC call in show
HOPE AND THE ENVIRONMENT: An overview
There is growing recognition from a wide range of disciplines environmental sociology, environmental education, political theory, ecological economics, etc., that kids are feeling overwhelmed and hopeless in response to gloom and doom forecasts about the state of the environment and their own futures. (Please see the letter to the editor I wrote in the British newspaper The Independent entitled, "Despair will not help the climate."
Equally worrisome is the assertion in these fields that the response of youths and society in general toward environmental degradation emphasizes materialism and consumerism. Whether this represents some form of self-medication in response to what Dr. Kriss Kevorkian at Antioch University labels "environmental grief," or, as Ingolfur Blühorn describes it, "an attempt to sustain the unsustainable," no one knows.
These are new ideas converging from a range of theories. The one person who is specifically exploring youth discourses in response to environmental threats is Albert Zeyer at the Institute for Teacher Education at the University of Zurich. As he puts it: "Scientific ecological facts without context suggest a world full of environmental problems that are larger than life.... [Y]ouths feel powerless as individuals to influence these enormous threats." They shut down and give up. Alfred was a medical doctor before returning to academia, and he describes the teens' symptoms of despair as "latent environmental depression."
Recently I spoke with Mathis Wackernagel, an economist and co-originator of the "ecological footprint" concept. He interprets the race to consume and build individual material wealth as a "fortress" response to a world in ecological overshoot that is headed toward economic collapse. The best thing an individual can do "to stave off a miserable life on a slowly eroding planet," he contends, "is to get rich. Then you can buy scarce resources." But as current examples to combat terrorism suggest, the effectiveness of this individualistic approach is short-lived and fraught with its own problems. This has led Mathis, Ulrich Beck and others, such as C.A. Bowers of Oregon State University, to explore ideas around global commons and cosmopolitan responses. There's a nice overview in the Guardian of Beck's current thoughts on risk and cosmopolitanism.
I think the issue of individualism versus collective responses is important to inspiring hope within youth. This has driven my interest in moving beyond the popular approach of focusing on individual behavior-change models toward the need to create collective forums for youth expression and action.