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

Ethics and Social Welfare 18 (2):115-130 (2024)
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Abstract

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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Author Profiles

Julie Gorman
University of Windsor
Alyson Baker
Massey University

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References found in this work

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The shallow and the deep, long-range ecology movement. A summary.Arne Naess - 1973 - Inquiry: An Interdisciplinary Journal of Philosophy 16 (1-4):95 – 100.
Toward a Decolonial Feminism.Marìa Lugones - 2010 - Hypatia 25 (4):742-759.
A Theoretical Framework for the Critical Posthumanities.Rosi Braidotti - 2019 - Theory, Culture and Society 36 (6):31-61.

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