University of Worcester Worcester Research and Publications

Developing Environmental Agency and Engagement Through Young People’s Fiction.

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


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This article explores the extent to which stories for young people encourage environmental engagement and a sense of agency. Our discussion is informed by the work of Paul Ricoeur (on hermeneutics and narrative), John Dewey (on primacy of experience), and John Macmurray (on personal agency in society). We understand fiction reading about place as hermeneutical, that is, interpreting understanding by combining what is read with what is experienced. We investigate this view through examples of four children’s writers, Ernest Thompson Seton, Kenneth Grahame, Michelle Paver and Philip Pullman. We draw attention to notions of critical dialogue and active democratic citizenship. With a focus on the educational potential of this material for environmental discussions that lead to deeper understandings of place and environment, we examine whether the examples consistently encourage the belief that young people can become agents for change. We also consider whether the concept of heroic resister might encourage young people to overcome peer pressure and peer cultures that marginalise environmental activism. We conclude by recommending the focused discussion of fiction to promote environmental learning; and for writers to engage ore with themes of environmental responsibility and agency.

Item Type: Article
Additional Information:

This is a post-refereed draft of the article which will be published in 2010.
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: environment, experience of place, young people’s fiction, moral development, citizenship, responsibility, agency
Subjects: L Education > LB Theory and practice of education
P Language and Literature > PN Literature (General)
P Language and Literature > PE English
Divisions: College of Arts, Humanities and Education > School of Education
College of Arts, Humanities and Education > School of Humanities
Related URLs:
Depositing User: Stephen Bigger
Date Deposited: 17 Dec 2009 14:09
Last Modified: 08 Jun 2021 09:24

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