GEReCo Research

Dialogue in Climate Engineering with Youth, or ‘DICEY’

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 ( or Lynda ( 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

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).

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.


GEReCo and research priorities

By David Lambert

On publishing its ‘research reviews’, including the one on geography, Ofsted stated that the intention was to “set out the research that has informed our thinking on subject quality”. One of Ofsted’s so-called ‘filters’ in reviewing research was the recognition that “curriculum is different from pedagogy”. In other words, the official watchdog on standards recognises that a key element in judging quality in geography is the curriculum per se, defined as “what teachers teach and when, and what pupils learn”[1]. We go on to read that in its future subject reports, inspectors will judge “the extent to which teaching supports the goals of the subject curriculum.”

Since its inception GEReCo has burned the flame for curriculum focussed scholarship and must continue to do so.

However, it needs to do so with a fierce independence, for what Ofsted means or implies by curriculum may not be entirely consistent with what some of us at least feel is at stake. John Morgan recently outlined this disjuncture in his review of the Ofsted document:[2] because “… the curriculum is seen as an ‘object’ rather than as a ‘problem’, all that is left is to explain how best to organize it, plan for progression, and teach it – hence the overwhelming focus of the Review [is] on pedagogy and assessment.” But the curriculum problem remains, looming like the proverbial elephant in the room: how do teachers justify geography in the school curriculum and what should we teach?

Perhaps we need look no further than the following words to see the significance of John’s point. Ofsted states that “Progress in curricular terms means knowing more and remembering more, so a curriculum needs to carefully plan for that progress by considering the building blocks and sequence in each subject.”

This to me conjures images of Nero fiddling while Rome burns. There are doubtless other metaphors. But merely teaching geography efficiently and effectively to ‘ensure progression’ (which utterly defies precise, technocratic definition anyhow – at least beyond ‘remembering more’) is a woefully inadequate expression of an educational response to contemporary needs and challenges. For instance, how does teaching geography contribute to the education of children and young people in a world where

  • colonial and imperial violence, and the enduring injustices that have followed, are now more widely understood and acknowledged;
  • the climate emergency is causing death, economic mayhem and displacing tens of millions of people across the globe;
  • biodiversity loss, again on a global scale, is already looking cataclysmic;
  • human-nature relations are now so mixed up (partly a result of almost 8 billion people on the planet) that the Covid-19 pandemic is best not thought of as a ‘one-off’?

These are existential threats, not abstract ‘world problems’. They are all present in the here and now. That is, they are experiential. But all are also geographical, or at least have geographical dimensions. Geographers are amongst those contributing new knowledge, perspectives and insights across all of these areas. The school geography curriculum has the enormous challenge of responding to pupils’ lived experiences while at the same time enabling them better to understand these in broader contexts. This is where ‘school subject’ meets ‘discipline’. It is not so much about rewriting the curriculum with better, new or more up to date selections to teach in schools, but more to do with the relationship we have with knowledge and the infrastructure that exist to support teachers in the development of this relationship – and building that relationship to ‘what we know and how we know it’ with pupils too. This is not easy and is nothing less than grappling with the challenges and ambition of Future Three curriculum making[3] – incidentally, the lynchpin of GeoCapabilities[4].

So GEReCo is definitely right in promoting and developing deeper and broader links with the wider discipline (along with the RGS-IBG and GA). But the particular strength of GEReCo must be to examine the school curriculum implications – because of course, as Zongyi Deng[5] points out in his most recent paper, what is taught in school, even under the banner of that frequently misappropriated term ‘powerful knowledge’, is not just influenced by developments in the discipline. He makes a call for continued conceptual research on knowledge, how content selections are made and the role of teachers in curriculum making – in a manner that is not ‘above’ politics but neither is unaware of social, cultural, environmental and political contexts in which we live. It is for example noteworthy the surge of interest in issues of race and racism in society that has followed the resurgence of Black Lives Matter, and a growing number of individuals and groups are now thinking hard about how school geography must respond. It also is a matter of record the step change in popular understanding of the climate emergency and its differential effects around the world, including within the British Isles. Furthermore, Brexit has resulted in a political dynamic that requires recalibration of the UK’s relationship with Europe and the rest of the world – which clearly risks the very existence of the UK in its current form.  These are all epochal issues, and it is interesting how reluctant educationist in general seem to be in confronting the question of what appropriate educational responses should be. Guy Claxton’s riveting new read on the ‘future of teaching’[6], for example, barely mentions such issues and neither does Debra Kidd’s ‘curriculum of hope’[7] whilst acknowledging we live in ‘trying times’.

Deng calls for empirical work on the curriculum and in geography this could – should maybe – address those matters alluded to in the previous paragraph. Easier said than done perhaps. But now is surely the time. It might therefore be appropriate for readers to use the comment box to make their own suggestions regarding this call. Comments might then take the form the basis of a further blog post – also taking into account gaps and silences noted in the Ofsted review of research in geography.[8]

[1] All these quoted words are from


[3] Morgan, J., Hoadley, U. and Horden, J. (2019) On the politics and ambition of the ‘turn’: unpacking the relations between Future 1 and Future 3. Curriculum Journal, 30 (2) DOI:10.1080/09585176.2019.1575254


[5] Deng, Z. (2021) Powerful knowledge, transformations and Didaktik/curriculum thinking, British Educational Research Journal  DOI: 10.1002/berj.3748

[6] Claxton, G. (2021) The Future of Teaching – and the myths that hold it back. Abingdon: Routledge.

[7] Kidd, D. (2020) A curriculum of Hope. Independent Thinking Press.