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Research article - Peer-reviewed, 2021

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

Authors' information

Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, Department of Ecology
University of Stirling
Mannion, Greg
University of Stirling

Sustainable Development Goals

SDG4 Ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all

UKÄ Subject classification

Social Sciences Interdisciplinary

Publication Identifiers


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