Youth and Community Work for Climate Justice: Towards an Ecocentric Ethics for Practice

Gorman, Jamie ORCID: 0000-0002-5153-2045, Baker, Alison ORCID: 0000-0002-6830-3185, Corney, Tim ORCID: 0000-0002-1980-6835 and Cooper, Trudi ORCID: 0000-0002-4758-5881 (2024) Youth and Community Work for Climate Justice: Towards an Ecocentric Ethics for Practice. Ethics and Social Welfare. pp. 1-16. ISSN 1749-6535


This paper traces an expanded ethical perspective for youth and community work (YCW) practice in response to the climate and biodiversity crises. Discussing ecological ethics, we problematise the liberal humanist emphasis on utilitarianism and reject it as inappropriate for YCW in these times. Instead, we argue for an ecocentric practice ethic which intrinsically values the non-human world. To advance an ecocentric ethical perspective for YCW we draw on decolonial and posthuman theory. Inspired by a Freirean dialogical approach, we apply these theoretical domains as lenses to problematise YCW practice, seeking a generative dialogue between perspectives. Through this, we identify three emergent tasks for ecocentric YCW: (a) thinking and acting beyond the individual; (b) cultivating reciprocal care and connection and (c) practicing critical pedagogies of place. This third element builds on YCW's social pedagogic tradition and provides a practical means to incorporate ecocentric ideas into practice. We conclude that, given the unprecedented implications of climate crises and biodiversity collapse, a YCW ethics that does not consider these implications for young people is insufficient for the context of practice today. Enacting an ecocentric YCW ethics requires ongoing collective praxis and dialogue between young people, practitioners, educators, managers and students.

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Item type Article
DOI 10.1080/17496535.2024.2327379
Official URL
Subjects Current > FOR (2020) Classification > 3902 Education policy, sociology and philosophy
Current > FOR (2020) Classification > 4409 Social work
Current > Division/Research > Institute for Sustainable Industries and Liveable Cities
Keywords human exceptionalism, humanist ontology of autopoiesis, bounded individualism, sympoiesis of collective and interdependent systems, individualism
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