Contested Agency and Authorship in Middle School Girls’ Climate Science Digital Storytelling: Disentangling Individual and Collective Agency

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Contribution to a Book

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Justice and Equity in Climate Change Education Exploring Social and Ethical Dimensions of Environmental Education



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Promoting youth agency in science and community action and science identity work has become increasingly a focus of transformative climate change education for equity and justice. However, youth agency is inherently entangled with the agency of their communities. Here, the authors explore the interaction between individual and collective agency through a cross-case analysis of five sixth-grade girls who participated in the second iteration of a climate science and storytelling curriculum as part of a design-based research project. They analyze classroom observations, interviews, surveys, and student artifacts to examine how agency and voice was negotiated through the youths’ positioning of themselves and others during filmmaking. They found creating the film was a productive space to play with possible selves, and that in some cases youths connected to their stories in personally consequential ways. While overall the girls reported an increased collective agency through the creation of their film, the amount of agency each individual was afforded and the extent to which each voice was heard varied. The authors argue that the relationship between individual and collective agency and voice is complex and at times contentious, and that better articulating of these relationships should be a priority for researchers interested in supporting social transformation and climate change action.


Science Education; Meteorology and Climate Science