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Young People at a Crossroads

Young people at a crossroads (YPX): Negotiations of environmental knowledges, practices and subjectivities in immigrant homes at a time of climate crisis

About this project

The Young People at a Crossroads project, funded by the ESRC from January 2021 to February 2023, delved into the responses of second-generation immigrant youth and their parents to climate change in Manchester and Melbourne.

Researchers at the University of Manchester partnered with 14-18-year-olds with family migration backgrounds to explore their views on climate change and understand how these perspectives align with their families' experiences of adapting to environmental uncertainties in the UK, Australia, and globally.

Read more about the Young People at a Crossroads project on the University of Manchester's dedicated webpage

Project background

As youth climate activism grows around the world, this project aimed to generate unique understandings into how families composed of first- and second-generation immigrants from the Global South (GS) are responding to lived experiences of climate crisis in two ethnically diverse cities: Manchester and Melbourne.

As well as growing up at an historic crossroads in terms of political and societal responses to the climate crisis, second-generation immigrants are at an additional crossroads in their family life, between different sets of political and cultural values, economic possibilities and environmental characteristics that have roots in (at least) two countries.

This pioneering project was the first of its kind to conduct research with this often overlooked group of young people, generating insights from two cities, with young people from a range of ethnic backgrounds. The question at the heart of the project was how second-generation immigrants - part of the most ‘climate change-aware’ generation alive today - discuss and negotiate responses to the climate crisis with parents who may have first-hand experience of living with resource and climate uncertainty, yet whose knowledge is often not valued in Global North (GN) contexts.

This area of research is both timely and important because at a time when deep-rooted adaptations are still urgently needed in societies already feeling the effects of climate change, existing research by the project team and other researchers has found that GS immigrants hold valuable knowledge that is often not known to or fully appreciated by the public and by policymakers in the GN contexts where they are living.

At the time of starting the project, no research had yet explored the crucial role - actual or potential - that the children of immigrants play in carrying and exchanging environmental knowledges between the private space of the home and public and institutional spaces such as schools, as well as symbolically between different generations and cultural backgrounds.

The project aimed to advance understanding of how intergenerational and cross-cultural tensions and opportunities for learning play out in immigrant homes and in schools in Manchester and Melbourne.

Project resources

Find out more about our educational resources from the Young People at a Crossroads project.

Further information and contact

The project was led by Principal Investigator Catherine Walker while at The University of Manchester and was funded by the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC).

Find out more about Young People at a Crossroads on the dedicated University of Manchester's dedicated webpage

Catherine Walker

Catherine is an NUAcT Fellow in Cities and Place, specialising in research around young people, climate justice and education and lead the YPX project at the University of Manchester.

Catherine is interested in how climate change can exacerbate intersecting social inequalities for young people and their families and the opportunities young people have to respond to this in families, schools and communities.