#9 - Brigid Mark, “UNFCCC COP25 Research on Global Youth Climate Justice Movement.”

Advisor:

Dr. Corrie Grosse, Environmental Studies

What inspired you to select your research or creative work topic? 

This research project was inspired by the global momentum of youth activists around the world demanding urgent climate action from elected leaders. School strikes for Climate have inspired millions around the globe; when it comes to climate, youth have much at stake since it is their futures on the line. Their urgency and emphasis on justice makes them a particularly important group to listen to. 

Environmental Studies professor Corrie Grosse invited me to collaborate on a research project studying the youth climate justice movement at the UN Climate Conference in Madrid, Spain. Each year, CSB/SJU has the unique opportunity to send students to the UN Climate Conference (known as COPs) which are key sites of global organizing and hope for a comprehensive approach to climate policy. We wanted to examine youth climate activists’ priorities, frustrations, and hopes for creating just climate policy at this global forum.

Which of CSB/SJU's five learning goals applies to your experience conducting research?

The climate crisis is one of the greatest social and environmental threats of our time; we must think globally and creatively to build a climate just world. Conducting research at the UN Climate Conference meets the CSB/SJU learning goals of engaging globally and embracing difference. The climate crisis is global in nature and the findings of this research are applicable to the movement for climate justice around the world. At COP, leaders from around the world all gather together in this space to share successes in organizing around climate change. Our interviewees included youth from South America, Africa, the Pacific Islands, the Middle East, Europe, Native nations, the U.S., and India. 

The findings of this research meet the CSB/SJU learning goal of embracing difference. Many youth climate justice activists suggested that the climate justice movement should be led by frontline communities impacted by climate change first and worst: Indigenous peoples, people of color, gender and sexual minorities, undocumented people, people with disabilities, people living in poverty, and youth. Radical inclusivity of diverse voices is imperative to addressing the climate crisis holistically and to serving communities which have faced historical injustices. The space, policies, and the social movement organizing at this COP perpetuated injustices against Indigenous peoples in particular, and necessitate new ways of negotiating, building relationships, and imagining climate solutions that center Indigenous communities. As the youth climate justice movement grows, attending to Indigenous priorities will help it transform, rather than reinforce, the systems at the root of climate crisis.

What advice would you give to future CSB/SJU students that want to participate in undergraduate research or creative work? 

Participating in undergraduate research, I learned that I was capable of much more than I thought that I was and has ultimately enabled me to pursue a doctorate degree. The advice I have for students who wish to engage in undergraduate research or creative work is to find a mentor who will push you to do things you didn’t think you were capable of. My mentor, Corrie Grosse, one of the kindest, smartest, most resourceful, considerate, and driven people I’ve ever met, changed the course of my life, altered the way I see the world, and pushed me to challenge myself. 

She first told me that I could perform interviews in Spanish while I studied abroad in Guatemala, interviews which I used to write my thesis for environmental studies. She then invited me to collaborate on several research projects which are now being published. She also helped me step by step in applying for graduate school. Find a mentor who will see what you are capable of, and push you to actualize your potential, and who will tailor their advice and encouragement to you specifically.