Climate change, transformative learning, and social action: An exploration of adult climate activists in Manitoba, Canada

Thumbnail Image
Brandenbarg, Claire
Journal Title
Journal ISSN
Volume Title
Recently animated by youth campaigns such as #FridaysforFuture, the climate movement reflects the urgency of the climate crisis in the 21st century. While youth climate activists point to the instability of their own future as a key reason for mobilizing, it is not as clear what catalyzing forces are causing adults to join the climate movement. To investigate, this research explores the role of learning as a catalyzing process through which adult activists in Manitoba, Canada, are motivated to take collective action on the climate crisis. As such, this work attempts to address a gap in the transformative learning literature by examining the intersection of learning and action, and works to advance knowledge regarding pathways to “learn our way out” of complex socio-ecological problems (e.g., climate change). Data for this qualitative study was comprised of literature and document review, semi-structured interviews, and a focus group session with climate activists in Manitoba. Key findings included observing how multiple types of learning (formal, nonformal, and experiential) led participants to climate activism, as well as how experiences of grief, loss, death, and/or trauma motivated involvement in the climate movement. In regard to learning outcomes, this research adds context to the instrumental, communicative, transformative, and introspective domains of transformative learning and draws conclusions about the learning-to-action process as one of accumulated awareness.
Activism, Transformative learning, Climate change, Climate activism, Adult learning