“For young people, hope is hard work” – Conversation about research communication, civic humanities and art as a method for integrative learning

17 October 2023

A seminar held in Swedish. Please contact Karin Englund, karin@fargfabriken.se, if you would like more information about this project in English.

How do we talk about climate change, the extinction of species and global injustices with young people? How do we help them to maintain hope in a world we don’t understand ourselves? “For the young, hope is hard work” is about the art of navigating difficult future issues together  – across generational boundaries and between different disciplines.

In the conversation, we deal with questions such as:

  • What does civic humanities mean and why is this form of research needed?
  • Can cross-disciplinary research fields such as posthumanities and environmental humanities function as research communication?
  • What competences and skills can be developed by working practically with the humanities and philosophy?

An international survey published in 2021 showed that eight out of ten young people between 16 and 25 years old experienced climate anxiety. Three-quarters were afraid of the future and 50 percent felt let down by their governments.* And yes, certainly our world is characterized by betrayal, exploitation and difficult problems that leads to an uncertain future.

But existence is not black or white and the world cannot be described or explained only through data, facts and figures. Knowledge and understanding also require analysis and reflection, and handling our common challenges demands the ability to grasp complex structures and keep several different perspectives in mind at the same time.

In the seminar “For young people, hope is hard work”, cross-practical environmental humanities and civic humanities are highlighted as a form of civic research. Through civic humanities, young people are involved in cross-disciplinary collaborations where, with the help of researchers, artists and other skills, they receive guidance and support to develop their abilities to think about difficult existential questions and acquire new knowledge.

There are not only threats, darkness and exploitation in the world of today. There is also goodwill, cooperation and solidarity. The prerequisites for young people’s involvement are that they can maintain hope that there are different futures worth fighting for. And it’s up to us adults to help them. It is our responsibility to communicate research on climate, sustainability and the path to sustainable societies in ways that do not only lead to anxiety and apathy, but provide capabilities and confidence about the future.

*Marks, Elizabeth and Hickman, Caroline and Pihkala, Panu and Clayton, Susan and Lewandowski, Eric R. and Mayall, Elouise E. and Wray, Britt and Mellor, Catriona and van Susteren, Lise, Young People’s Voices on Climate Anxiety, Government Betrayal and Moral Injury: A Global Phenomenon. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3918955 orhttp://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3918955


Conversation leader: Hanna Zetterqvist

Dick Kasperowski, professor in scientific theory, Göteborgs universitet
Caroline Malmström, artistic leader, Art Lab Gnesta
Hilda Ander, participant in Reclaiming Futures and part of Squid Squad, Art Lab Gnesta
Cecilia Åsberg, professor i gender, nature och culture, Linköpings universitet
Karin Wegsjö, director and documentary filmmaker
Janna Holmstedt, artist and researcher at Statens historiska museer
Daniel Uray, processleader, Färgfabriken
Magnus Nordin, teacher Bromma gymnasium
Lotten Wiklund, science journalist

About the project Reclaiming Futures – Storying Change

“For young people, hope is hard work” is part of the project Reclaiming Futures – Storying Change. The first part of the project took part during 2021 and 2022, when young people, researchers, artists, filmmakers, journalists, teachers and educators worked together to evolve new forms of climate and environmental communication. At first different groups of young people and researchers met in workshops, lectures and seminars to discuss Anthropocene and climate change. From what came up in these contexts the young people worked out synopsis or background material for short films which they created and produced by their own with support from artists and filmmakers.

In Spring 2022 the films were presented together with panel discussions and seminars at festival at Färgfabriken (arranged by Färgfabriken´s youth council).

A view from the festival Reclaiming Futures – Storying Change at Färgfabriken in April 2022.

In Reclaiming Futures – Storying Change we have used integrative learning based on perspectives taken from post-humanities and environmental humanities. The ambition has been to practice and explore citizen humanities – a form of citizen research that emphasizes qualitative and value-driven methods instead of data-driven knowledge production. The work on the project has generated insights and knowledge, but also raised reflections and new questions.

Mostly of the information about the project is in Swedish. Please contact Karin Englund at Färgfabriken if you need more information, e-mail: karin@fargfabriken.se

Project group

Cecilia Åsberg, professor in gender, nature and culture at Linköpings universitet, Lotten Wiklund, science journlist, Janna Holmstedt artist and researcher at Statens historiska museer, Karin Wegsjö, filmmaker, Karin Englund, assistant director, Färgfabriken, Daniel Urey, process manager, Färgfabriken, Magnus Nordin, teacher Bromma gymnasium, och Caroline Malmström, artistic leader, Art Lab Gnesta in collaboration with researchers from the The Posthumanities Hub. 


Reclaiming Futures – Storying Change is a collaboration involving Linköpings universitet, Färgfabriken, Kajman Media, Karin Wegsjö Produktion, Statens historiska museer, KTH Avdelningen för historiska studier av vetenskap, teknik och miljö.The project is financed with means from Formas.