Strengthening youth engagement for sustainability through dialogue and transformative learning

New study for the Federal Environment Agency

Although the fear of environmental pollution and climate change is one of the biggest concerns of young people across all social milieus according to recent youth studies, it is predominantly so-called “idealistic” youth and young adults who are engaged on the issues of environmental and climate protection. Young people from other social milieus, on the other hand, often lack points of contact to their respective lifeworlds, therefore they are far less likely to participate on these issues.

Against this background, the Federal Environment Agency commissioned the consortium of ConPolicy, IKU, UfU – Independent Institute for Environmental Issues and ism – Institute for Social Pedagogical Research Mainz – to investigate how adolescents and young adults not yet active in the field of climate and environmental protection and sustainability can be reached, sensitized and activated for these topics and sustainability commitment.

Special focus of the project is to bring together actors from different thematic areas of open youth work as well as from youth associations and to enable these in transformative dialogue processes in order to sensitize adolescents and young adults which have not yet been involved in environmental and sustainability issues, to initiate sustainable action and to strengthen or increase the commitment of these young people.

The project comprises a mix of different research and dialog formats. In addition to an actor field and target group analysis with desktop and literature research as well as expert interviews, youth dialogue events are conducted to develop initial recommendations for action. In concrete model projects, potentials of cooperation and transformative learning are directly tested and evaluated. An advisory board will accompany the project with its expertise throughout its entire duration.

The results of the research project will lead to a practice-oriented handbook for youth organizations and institutions of open youth work as well as to political recommendations for action for the Ministry of Environment. In addition, the results will be presented and discussed at a public youth forum with around 100 participants.

UfU is the lead institution responsible for WP-3. Within the work package, three model projects focusing on peer learning and transformative learning will be developed and implemented. The projects take place in different regions and aim to test how participating institutions can develop themselves in such a way that they can reach with their work young people with less affinity for sustainability, strengthen their offers and activities in the field of sustainability, create opportunities for reflection and engagement and thus achieve a societal transformative impact.

In addition, UfU is collaborating on the following work steps

– WP1 – Analysis of the initial situation and survey of needs

– WP2 – Design and implementation of youth dialogues in the BMUV/UBA

– WP 4 – Documentation, reflection and evaluation of the model projects

– WP5 – Development of a practice-oriented manual and political recommendations for action

– WP6 – Youth forum and project conclusion

05/2023 – 04/2026

Cooperation Partner
IKU_Die Dialoggestalter

ConPolicy – Institut für Verbraucherpolitik

Ism – Institut für Sozialpädagogische Forschung Mainz

Designbüro Kirsch Kürmann

Funded by

the Federal Environment Agency (UBA) as part of the BMUV’s departmental research plan (ReFoPlan).

Larissa Donges, Alina Beigang