A new project funded as part of the UKRI / Royal Society of Arts ‘Rethinking Public Dialogue’ series.
Dr Elizabeth Rushton (University College London’s Centre for Climate Change and Sustainability Education) and Dr Lynda Dunlop (University of York)
In September 2022, the Royal Society of Arts and UKRI announced a series of nine projects to be funded over the next year focused on ‘Rethinking Public Dialogue’. One of these projects is ‘DICEY’ – Dialogue in Climate Engineering with Youth, co-led by Lynda Dunlop and Lizzie Rushton. DICEY is an innovative approach to public dialogue on emergent science and policy on climate interventions, focusing on question creation. As such, this project sits at the interface of geography and science and also draws on approaches and understanding from geography education and science education. DICEY’s participatory and collaborative approach involves online workshops with under-represented publics (youth, aged 16-24), scientists, policy-makers and artists. Dialogue will result in the production of artist-illustrated ‘climate questions’ cards, to stimulate further online public dialogue. DICEY is intended to be inclusive and intergenerational, involving reciprocal relationships with participants, and inverting norms to make scientists and policy-makers the ‘public’ for youth questions.
DICEY builds upon existing research on dialogue in climate interventions and is set against the context in which young people report feelings of betrayal and anxiety associated with beliefs about inadequate government response to climate change (Hickman et al., 2021). In the context of climate interventions, the dominant approach to researching public engagement to date has been to ask participants (typically, adults) to appraise the acceptability of different proposals, often involving presentations by researchers ‘close to the science’. This presents a particular challenge for new technologies because public awareness tends to be low (Scheer & Renn, 2014), and so there has been a move towards deliberative approaches which introduce new ideas to various publics. Challenges associated with these approaches include deferral to scientific authority, even on non-scientific questions, and problematic framings (Corner & Pidgeon, 2015), for example natural framings (such as comparisons with volcanic eruptions) or those which favour fast-acting and impactful climate interventions (Mahajan, Tingley & Wagner, 2019). Dialogue is often structured around specific techniques with little consideration of alternative (social, political, economic) responses to climate change. Attempts have been made to respond to these challenges (cf. Bellamy et al., 2014) through a reduced role for scientists and the use of tentative language to design interventions. DICEY, in contrast, fully involves scientists and policy-makers in a different capacity – as accountable to youth questions and concerns – through public switching – and builds youth capacity to participate in dialogue. DICEY puts youth in the position of identifying their priorities, articulating concerns and creating questions for those who are in positions of influence – and engaging scientists and policy-makers directly with these questions. This mitigates impacts of issue framing and the presence of scientific authorities and allows youth to frame issues in ways relevant to them.
DICEY builds on Lynda and Lizzie’s previous work, ‘Geoengineering: a climate of uncertainty?’ where, through a series of online workshops, they engaged youth (18-25 years) from across Europe in the scientific, ethical, social and political dimensions of climate intervention, resulting in the co-authorship of a policy brief and academic articles (Dunlop et al., 2021; 2022). This project forms an important baseline for DICEY, and the principles of reciprocity, co-authorship, questioning and dialogue, have been incorporated into the design of DICEY. Although ‘climate of uncertainty?’ was dialogic in its methods, the team is not involved in science or policy-making in geoengineering. DICEY makes this connection between youth, scientists and policy-makers.
Workshops with youth (16-24 years) will take place in late 2022, with a second phase of workshops with policy-makers and scientists in early 2023. If you would like to be involved in either series of workshops or would like to find out more about the project, please do get in touch with Lizzie (firstname.lastname@example.org) or Lynda (email@example.com) or follow us on Twitter – @RushtonDr and @UYSEG. More information about the full series of projects can be found at @theRSAorg
Bellamy, R., Chilvers, J., & Vaughan, N. E. (2014). Deliberative mapping of options for tackling climate change: Citizens and specialists ‘open up’ appraisal of geoengineering. Public Understanding of Science, 25(3), 269–286.
Corner, A., Parkhill, K., Pigeon, N., & Vaughan, N. E. (2013). Messing with nature? Exploring public perceptions of geoengineering in the UK. Global Environmental Change, 23(5), 938–947.
Dunlop, L., Rushton, E.A.C., Atkinson, L., Blake, C., Calvert, S., Cornelissen, E., Dècle, C.M.M., De Schriver, J., Dhassi, K.K., Edwards, R.P.R., Malaj, G., Mirjanić, J., Saunders, W.E.H., Sinkovec, Y., Stadnyk, T., Štofan, J., Stubbs, J.E., Su, C., Turkenburg-van Diepen, M., Vellekoop, S., Veneu, F. and Yuan, X. (2021). An introduction to the co-creation of policy briefs with youth and academic teams. Journal of Geography in Higher Education. http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/03098265.2021.2001793.
Dunlop, L., Rushton, E.A.C., Atkinson, L., Blake, C., Calvert, S., Cornelissen, E., Dècle, C.M.M., De Schriver, J., Dhassi, K.K., Edwards, R.P.R., Malaj, G., Mirjanić, J., Saunders, W.E.H., Sinkovec, Y., Stadnyk, T., Štofan, J., Stubbs, J.E., Su, C., Turkenburg-van Diepen, M., Vellekoop, S., Veneu, F. and Yuan, X. (2022). Youth co-authorship as public engagement with geoengineering. International Journal of Science Education (Part B).https://doi.org/10.1080/21548455.2022.2027043
Hickman, C., Marks, E., Pihkala, P., Clayton, S., Lewandowski, R. E., Mayall, E. E., … & van Susteren, L. (2021). Climate anxiety in children and young people and their beliefs about government responses to climate change: a global survey. The Lancet Planetary Health, 5(12), e863-e873.
Mahajan, A., Tingley, D., & Wagner, G. (2019). Fast, cheap, and imperfect? US public opinion about solar geoengineering. Environmental Politics, 28(3), 523–543.
Scheer, D., & Renn, O. (2014). Public perception of geoengineering and its consequences for public debate. Climatic Change, 125(3), 305–318.