Coordinated by the University of Oulu, Finland, the 10 consortium partners from across Europe recently gathered in Amsterdam for an in-person kick-off meeting, with Trinity represented by Dr Mairéad Hurley and Dr Caitlin White from the School of Education, and Dr Elspeth Payne from the Trinity Long Room Hub.

Critical Change group visit to Amsterdam

Drawing on diverse practices from storytelling, science, theatre and visual arts, and utilising creative technologies such as Virtual and Augmented Reality, the Critical ChangeLab project will develop and deliver a transdisciplinary learning programme that aims to foster young people's agency and active citizenship at a time when polarisation and dwindling trust in democracy are spreading across Europe and worldwide. The programme will be iteratively co-designed with young people as part of this participatory action research project, with the first outputs due to be exhibited in November.

Across the cycles of creative production and participatory action research, diverse actors from formal and non-formal education, civic organisations and SMEs will work together with youth to rethink European democracy and envision sustainable, justice-oriented futures. The project will also examine the current state of democracy within education institutions in Ireland and across Europe, exploring the perspectives of educators and young people on active citizenship and everyday democracy. Through these research actions combining quantitative and qualitative approaches, Critical ChangeLab will generate a robust evidence base to support democracy and global citizenship education in formal and non-formal settings.

Dr Mairéad Hurley, Assistant Professor in Science Education, and Trinity Principal Investigator for the project, said:

"Our Science & Society research group, based in the School of Education, explores the myriad ways science influences society, and vice versa, including its role in technological, political, and environmental systems. We consider the extent to which people can access and utilise science in their everyday lives, being mindful that science has its own history of oppression, omission, and erasure of people or systems of knowledge.

With Critical ChangeLab, we are interested in creating equitable conditions for learning that span disciplinary boundaries so that young people have the opportunity to explore issues of importance to them, enhance their skills and competencies, and generate creative outputs that reflect their reality, their voices, and their visions of the future. By assessing the critical literacies they develop along the way, we will scale and embed this transdisciplinary, youth-led approach to democracy and global citizenship education across a range of learning contexts."

Critical ChangeLab builds upon the Trinity Long Room Hub’s work in this area in recent years, including the Schuler Democracy Forum, the CEPRAH (Community Engagement Praxis for Research in the Arts and Humanities) project, and the CHCI-Mellon Global Humanities Institute (GHI) on the Crises of Democracy. Outputs from these projects include The History of the Future podcast series (2023), the Improving Arts and Humanities Engagement in Ireland's Civic and Community Sphere report (2022), and an open access democracy curriculum (2020).

Dr Elspeth Payne, Research Fellow at the Trinity Long Room Hub commented “Critical ChangeLab is an exciting opportunity to apply Arts and Humanities approaches to pressing real-world issues and to further develop the Hub’s democracy initiatives. We are thrilled to be collaborating with practitioners and researchers from diverse disciplinary backgrounds from across Europe, and we are looking forward to co-creating material with young people and civic society organisations in Ireland.”

EU funding logoFunded by the European Union. Views and opinions expressed are however those of the authors only and do not necessarily reflect those of the European Union or the European Research Executive Agency (REA). Neither the European Union nor the REA can be held responsible for them.