Teaching for climate justice. How can we use storytelling to engage with climate emotions in the classroom?

Eco-anxiety affects students’ mental wellbeing and raises questions among lecturers like: How to infuse students with hope and agency, when teaching the consequences of the climate crisis? How to deal with eco-emotions, such as eco-guilt and eco-depression in the classroom? How to prepare students to become “professionals of the future” that can contribute to climate justice?

Storytelling as a teaching method can enable students to imagine alternatives, to engage in self-reflection and to understand the context they live in. Storytelling is a reflexive and social practice (Riedy 2020) and stories are powerful tools to explore identities and to advocate for solutions. Developing stories related to the climate and eco-anxiety, can help to cope with eco-emotions and to re-imagine the future (see Ecoanxious 2023).

This project seeks to develop an educational toolkit with methods and guidelines inspired by different storytelling techniques for university lecturers that work on topics related to the climate crisis. In so doing, the project seeks to contribute to the mental wellbeing of students, as well as to their capabilities to engage with climate justice related issues in their future professional lives.

The purpose of the workshops is two-sided. On the one hand, workshop participants will acquaint themselves with different forms of storytelling and reflect on how these methods can be applied in teaching. On the other hand, as participants will practice different storytelling techniques in the workshops, they will learn about students’ and lecturers’ climate stories, ideas of climate justice, and experiences of eco-anxiety in the classroom.