An academic at Edge Hill University is among a select group of researchers to receive funding from the UK Government to research how creative arts can educate children about climate change.
Dr Laura McGuire, along with Professor Geoff Beattie and Professor Martin McQuillan, has been awarded £10,000 by UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) and the Arts and Humanities Council (AHRC) to assess children’s implicit attitudes towards the environment.
The funding has been announced at the beginning of the United Nation’s climate change summit, COP26, which is taking place in Glasgow from 31st October to 12th November.
Dr McGuire, a lecturer in Psychology, is using creative arts to teach students from secondary schools in Kirkby, Liverpool, about the climate crisis.
Dr McGuire said: “By using creative arts techniques, such as drama, creative writing, art, songs and rap, we want to really engage children and young people with climate change and tap into their underlying implicit attitudes. Implicit attitudes are attitudes which are held without conscious awareness but direct much of our everyday habitual behaviour.”
This project follows her research in primary schools which began in 2020, where Dr McGuire assessed pupils’ responses to climate change through traditional teaching methods compared to creative arts. The project was funded by Edge Hill’s Research Institute Thematic Award (RITA) scheme.
She added: “This project was the first of its kind because it measured the change in the pupils’ underlying implicit attitudes towards climate change. The research is ongoing, but the preliminary findings are very exciting.”
Last year Dr McGuire won a global award from the Sustainability Research Network in recognition of her pioneering work to improve climate change education.
Dr McGuire’s link to the schools was facilitated by Karen Bloyce and the University’s Young Edge Hill Scholars (YES) programme, which develops partnership between the institution and local schools.