Why Hope Matters: How to Support Kids To Find Meaningful Engagement in the Age of Eco-Anxiety and Climate Doom

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Climate change dominated the media in 2019 but with the emergence of COVID-19, we experienced a media eclipse that led many to falsely assume climate change activism had lost its momentum. In this workshop, Dr. Elin Kelsey will help participants explore our personal feelings around these major crises, and how the problem-orientation of the media reproduces the eco-anxiety so many kids and adults experience. We'll share approaches as well as solutions and journalism sources that enable us to support kids to move beyond the eco-anxiety and disempowerment of doom and gloom towards meaningful engagement.

Background Information

Elin Kelsey, PhD is an author, scholar and passionate leader in the evidence-based hope and climate change solutions movement. Her newest book for adults, Hope Matters: Why Changing the Way We Think Is Critical For Solving The Environmental Crisis was published by Greystone Books in 2020. Her influence can be seen in the hopeful, solutions-focus of her clients, including the Monterey Bay Aquarium, and other powerful institutions where she has served as a visiting fellow including the Rachel Carson Center for the Environment and Society, the Rockefeller Foundation, and Stanford University in the Graduate School of Education. In 2022, she will be taking up a Kone Foundation Fellowship to work with climate science researchers, the Climate and Environmental Communication Science Association and children’s book writers in Finland on the Developing Climate Change Communication with Emotional Awareness project. Her contribution to climate advocacy and activism through evidence-based hope resulted in her selection as a 2020 finalist in the Canadian Nature Inspiration Awards.

Elin is a popular keynote speaker and has a track record of inspiring change. This past year, she co-led a research and engagement initiative that assembled an international community of scholars, educators, and climate justice leaders to identify the emotional impact of climate disruption. In May 2021, she launched the Existential Toolkit for Climate Justice Educators website which showcases an extensive collection of climate change communication resources for enhancing engagement while navigating the climate emergency. In 2014, she co-created #OceanOptimism, a twitter campaign to crowd-source marine conservation solutions which has reached more than 100 million shares. The scientific brief she wrote for Pew Global Oceans led former President George W. Bush to dedicate one of the world’s largest marine reserves, the Mariana Trench National Monument in 2009. She has worked on marine engagement projects and strategies in Britain, Australia, Canada, the U.K., and the U.S.  She led a coalition of more than 40 aquariums and visitor centers across the U.S. in a multi-year empowerment evaluation of how to better communicate about climate change and its effect on the oceans. That work gave rise to the North American Climate Interpreter network.

Elin co-founded the writing program at the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute at California State University, Monterey Bay and has been awarded writer-in-residence posts at: Hedgebrook, Berton House, Conservation International, Arteles and, Mesa Refuge. Elin is a feature writer and podcast host for Hakai Magazine and a best-selling, award-winning children's book author. She is currently writing an animated documentary for Amnesty International, and creating a hopeful, climate solutions campaign for children for the Ontario Water Centre. As an Adjunct Faculty member of the University of Victoria School of Environmental Studies, and Western Washington University’s partnership in the Redfish School of Change, she is championing a new solutions-oriented paradigm for educating environmental scientists and social scientists about climate change.

Elin holds a Ph.D. in Science Communication through King's College London. She obtained her Bachelor of Science degree in Zoology (Honours) from the University of Guelph and a Master of Arts in Science Learning in Informal Settings from the University of British Columbia. For more about Elin and her work please visit  https://www.elinkelsey.org