A picture of Dr Laura McGuire
Dr Laura McGuire

An Edge Hill academic has won a global award from the Sustainability Research Network in recognition of her pioneering work to improve climate change education.

Dr Laura McGuire has scooped an esteemed Emerging Scholar Award due to her important work with the public to encourage positive behaviour change and instil messages about tackling climate change and sustainability.

The award highlights how she has used her expertise to analyse both the psychology behind the choices people make and how best to improve climate change education for all ages.

In addition to receiving the award, Dr McGuire will be invited to speak at the Seventeenth Sustainability Research Network International Conference being held at the Vrije University in Amsterdam in 2021. The theme of the conference is Environmental, Cultural, Economic and Social Sustainability. There she will chair a range of panels and give a presentation on her recent work.

The poster for the seventeenth Sustainability Network Conference being held 24th to 26th February 2021.
© Sustainability Research Network

Dr McGuire said: “I’m really proud to have won the Emerging Scholar Award – it’s a huge boost for my research and great to have my work in education recognised.

“I think it is vital that we find ways of encouraging sustainability and I’ve spent a great deal of time evaluating teaching methods that can get those messages across.

At the conference Dr McGuire will present her most recent work which looked at how children can be taught about sustainability using different teaching approaches. Her research involved devising and evaluating a number of different educational programmes and delivering them in North West based schools working alongside the Young Edge Hill Scholar project.

These approaches included learning about climate change through creative arts such as drama, art and creative writing as well as using a more traditional teaching approach. Her aim was to investigate which approach was the most effective in transferring knowledge, changing attitudes and modifying behaviour. This research, with Professor Geoff Beattie from Psychology, was funded by Edge Hill’s Research Institute Thematic Award (RITA) scheme.

After starting the research it became apparent that the project was having a noticeable effect on the children when they reported having conversations with their parents about how to be more sustainable in the home. Teachers were also impressed and gave glowing feedback.

“I was amazed at how quickly the children picked up sustainability messages and the feedback showed that they were taking those lessons home,” Dr McGuire explained. “Some children even reported that they were telling their parents how to be more sustainable and telling them off for not recycling, leaving lights on or forgetting to turn off the taps when they weren’t in use!”

The Sustainability Research Network is a global organisation that regularly hosts international conferences on sustainability, giving her the opportunity to showcase her research with a wide and varied audience. The network also has a significant publishing arm, publishing both book series and journals. Dr McGuire has published several articles in a number of their journals and acted as an Associate Editor of the International Journal of Environmental Sustainability.

Dr McGuire is currently Research Fellow in the Faculty of Education. She sits on the steering group for the new U.N.- based International Panel of Behaviour Change (IPBC) and she will be one of the  lead authors on the chapter ‘Education for Sustainable Development’ for the first report of this committee. She also co-authored The Psychology of Climate Change with Edge Hill Psychology Professor Geoff Beattie.

Edge Hill University runs a number of education courses. Visit www.edgehill.ac.uk/education for more information on all the education and teacher training courses available at Edge Hill.