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Research article2021Peer reviewedOpen access

Stewardship and beyond? Young people's lived experience of conservation activities in school grounds

Ruck, Andy; Mannion, Greg


This article provides ethnographic insight into the more-than-human relationships enacted through young people's participation in school grounds conservation activities. As a response to the escalating biodiversity crisis, conservation appears well-placed to facilitate young people's development of an environmental ethic of care, and a capacity to work towards addressing environmental issues. Proponents of posthuman pedagogies, however, argue that the 'stewardship' perspective underlying these activities fails to achieve the radical shift in human-environment relations required in response to the Anthropocene, given its apparent reinforcement of a perceived human/nature binary, and narrow 'solutions'-based approach. Considering these critiques, this article demonstrates that where there is openness to unplanned more-than-human encounters and the enactment of young people's own 'lived curricula', conservation activities can nonetheless enable forms of 'collective thinking with the more-than-human world' that transcend any underlying 'stewardship' perspective. We therefore point to the potential role of conservation activities within posthuman responses to the Anthropocene, provided such openness is maintained.


Conservation; anthropocene; more-than-human; stewardship; school grounds; posthuman

Published in

Environmental Education Research
2021, Volume: 27, number: 10, pages: 1502-1516

      SLU Authors

    Sustainable Development Goals

    Ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all

    UKÄ Subject classification

    Social Sciences Interdisciplinary

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