University of Worcester Worcester Research and Publications

Growing Environmental Activists: Developing Environmental Agency and Engagement Through Children’s Fiction.

Bigger, Stephen and Webb, Jean ORCID: (2010) Growing Environmental Activists: Developing Environmental Agency and Engagement Through Children’s Fiction. Environmental Education Research, 16 (3 & 4). pp. 401-414. ISSN 1469-5871 (electronic) 1350-4622 (paper)

#Bigger&Webb_finaledit_EEReprint#.pdf - Accepted Version

Download (65kB) | Preview


We explore how story has the potential to encourage environmental engagement and a sense of agency provided that critical discussion takes place. We illuminate this with reference to the philosophies of John Macmurray on personal agency and social relations; of John Dewey on the primacy of experience for philosophy; and of Paul Ricoeur on hermeneutics, dialogue, dialectics and narrative. We view the use of fiction for environmental understanding as hermeneutic, a form of conceptualising place which interprets experience and perception. The four writers for young people discussed are Ernest Thompson Seton, Kenneth Grahame, Michelle Paver and Philip Pullman. We develop the concept of critical dialogue, and link this to Crick's demand for active democratic citizenship. We illustrate the educational potential for environmental discussions based on literature leading to deeper understanding of place and environment, encouraging the belief in young people that they can be and become agents for change. We develop from Zimbardo the key concept of heroic resister to encourage young people to overcome peer pressure. We conclude with a call to develop a greater awareness of the potential of fiction for learning, and for writers to produce more focused stories engaging with environmental responsibility and activism.

Item Type: Article
Additional Information:

The published article appears in a special issue entitled 'Experiencing Environment and Place through Children’s Literature'.
Staff and students at the University of Worcester can access the full-text via Library Search. External users should check availability with their local library or Interlibrary Requests Service.

Uncontrolled Discrete Keywords: environmental education, agency, Ricoeur, Macmurray, Zimbardo, environment, experience of place, moral development, citizenship, responsibility
Subjects: L Education > LB Theory and practice of education
B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > B Philosophy (General)
B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BJ Ethics
Divisions: College of Arts, Humanities and Education > School of Education
College of Arts, Humanities and Education > School of Humanities
Related URLs:
Copyright Info: Prepublication version of the published article.
Depositing User: Stephen Bigger
Date Deposited: 27 Aug 2009 08:54
Last Modified: 17 Jun 2020 16:51

Actions (login required)

View Item View Item
Worcester Research and Publications is powered by EPrints 3 which is developed by the School of Electronics and Computer Science at the University of Southampton. More information and software credits.