Bergen Summer Research School
bergen summer research school

Childhood learning on democratic practices and attitudes to sustainability

The course focuses on childhood citizenship and the young's attitude to sustainability issues. The focus is on what we can learn from the situation in Norway, but includes global perspectives.

Youth protest
Callum Shaw on Unsplash

Main content

Course leader
Kjellrun Hiis Hauge, professor of education for sustainability, Faculty of Education, Arts and Sports, Western Norway University of Applied Sciences.

Kjersti Fløttum, professor of French linguistics, Department of foreign languages, University of Bergen.
Erlend Eidsvik, professor in sustainability education at Western Norway University of Applied Sciences (HVL), and professor II in Geography at UiT-The Arctic University of Norway. 
Thea Gregersen, researcher at NORCE and affiliated with the Centre for Climate and Energy Transformation (CET), UiB. 

Course description 
This course will focus on childhood citizenship. Questions to be addressed: How can citizenship of the young be understood? What can lived democracy in childhood and education be?

The young are surrounded by controversial issues and disinformation on various media platforms, such as issues related to sustainability and climate change. The worldwide school strikes for climate action witness an engagement, but what are the young’s attitudes to climate change and solutions that can reduce serious consequences? What are their attitudes to democracy and democratic engagement as ways to handle sustainability problems? To what extent is there a "battle" between generations? How and why do attitudes vary across the world?

The course presents academic literature on these questions and aims to discuss how the young can be supported, engaged, and given hope in complex and uncertain sustainability issues.

Learning outcomes

After this couse the candidate will:

  • have knowledge about ideas connected to young learners as critical citizens.
  • have knowledge about what policy discourses on climate change students learn in school in various countries.
  • have knowledge about young people’s attitude to climate change, Norwegians in particular.
  • be able to apply key concepts of the course, such as lived democracy, critical citizenship, critical thinking.
  • be able to reflect on key concepts of the course in relation to her/his own PhD project.

Reading list

Andersen, I., Fløttum, K. 2022. “Adults who fail the next generations and children who refuse to give up”: The story about climate change as a battle between the generations. In: Höllein, D. & Wieders-Lohéac, A. (Eds) Fridays for Future. Sprachliche Perspektiven auf eine globale Bewegung. Narr Francke Attempto Verlag. Germany: Tübingen.

Breivega, K.M.R., Hauge, K.H. & Tjomsland, M. (2022). Lived Democracy in the Classroom: Student views on risks and benefits related to oil exploitation in Lofoten. In Herheim, R., Werler, T.C. & Hauge (Eds.) Lived democracy in education. Young citizens’ democratic lives in kindergarten, school, and higher education, p. 141-152. Abingdon, G.B.: Routledge

Fløttum, K., Dahl, T., Scheurer, J. (forthcoming 2022/23) ‘Trying (hard), but it’s difficult’: Youth voices on lifestyle matters in a climate perspective. In: Svendsen, B. A., Jonsson, R. (Eds), Routledge Handbook on Language & Youth Culture.

Hauge, K.H. (2022). A tool for reflecting on questionable numbers in society. Studies in Philosophy and Education 41, 511–528. https://doi.org/10.1007/s11217-022-09836-6

Hauge, K.H., Werler, T.C., & Herheim, R. (2022). An elaborated understanding of lived democracy in education. In Herheim, R., Werler, T.C. & Hauge (Eds.) Lived democracy in education. Young citizens’ democratic lives in kindergarten, school, and higher education, p. 177-188. Abingdon, G.B.: Routledge

Trædal, L.T., Eidsvik, E. & Manik, S. (2022) Discourses of climate change education: The case of geography textbooks for secondary and higher secondary education in South Africa and Norway, Norwegian Journal of Geography, 76:2, 94-109, https://doi.org/10.1080/00291951.2022.2062044

Generational differences
Swim, J. K., Aviste, R., Lengieza, M. L., & Fasano, C. J. (2022). OK Boomer: A decade of generational differences in feelings about climate change. Global environmental change, 73, 102479. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.gloenvcha.2022.102479

Milfont, T. L., Zubielevitch, E., Milojev, P., & Sibley, C. G. (2021). Ten-year panel data confirm generation gap but climate beliefs increase at similar rates across ages. Nature Communications, 12(1), 4038. https://doi.org/10.1038/s41467-021-24245-y

Climate skepticism and misinformation
Poortinga, W., Spence, A., Whitmarsh, L., Capstick, S., & Pidgeon, N. F. (2011). Uncertain climate: An investigation into public scepticism about anthropogenic climate change. Global environmental change, 21(3), 1015-1024. https://doi.org/https://doi.org/10.1016/j.gloenvcha.2011.03.001

Cook, J. (2019). Understanding and countering misinformation about climate change. In Chiluwa, I. & Samoilenko, S. (Eds.), Handbook of Research on Deception, Fake News, and Misinformation Online (pp. 281-306). Hershey, PA: IGI-Global.

Psychological distance
Gubler, M., Brügger, A., & Eyer, M. (2019). Adolescents’ Perceptions of the Psychological Distance to Climate Change, Its Relevance for Building Concern About It, and the Potential for Education. In W. Leal Filho & S. L. Hemstock (Eds.), Climate Change and the Role of Education (pp. 129-147). Springer International Publishing. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-030-32898-6_8

Climate worry/anxiety
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. https://doi.org/10.1016/S2542-5196(21)00278-3

Sciberras, E., & Fernando, J. W. (2021). Climate change-related worry among Australian adolescents: an eight-year longitudinal study. Child and Adolescent Mental Health, n/a(n/a). https://doi.org/https://doi.org/10.1111/camh.12521

Marlon, J. R., Bloodhart, B., Ballew, M. T., Rolfe-Redding, J., Roser-Renouf, C., Leiserowitz, A., & Maibach, E. (2019). How hope and doubt affect climate change mobilization. Frontiers in Communication, 4(20). https://doi.org/https://doi.org/10.3389/fcomm.2019.00020


Participation at the BSRS is credited under the European Credit Transfer System (ECTS). Participants submitting an essay, in a form of a publishable manuscript of 10-20 pages, after the end of the summer school will receive 10 ECTS. Deadline for submission will be decided by your course leader.

It is also possible to participate without producing an essay. This will give you 5 ECTS. In order to receive credits, we expect full participation in the course-specific modules, plenary events and roundtables.

Course leader

Kjellrun Hiis Hauge is professor of education for sustainability, Faculty of Education, Arts and Sports, Western Norway University of Applied Sciences. She is a mathematics educator, and her research interests cover democratic practices in teaching and learning, critical citizenship and students’ capacity to engage critically with mathematics-based information related to contemporary and controversial societal issues such as sustainable development. She is the founder and a member of the research group Lived Democracy