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‘Not greenies’ at school: Investigating the Discourses of Environmental Activism in Regional Australia

  • Hilary Whitehouse (a1)


Implementing environmental activism at school can be socially risky business. This paper explores the narratives of three women who undertook award winning environmental projects in two regional Australian schools. Tara (student, age 15), Anne (student, age 15) and Andrea (principal, age 42) document the complex and courageous social negotiations they were forced to undertake in response to being negatively constituted as “a greenie” at school. Tara and Anne met resistance from their peers and family and Andrea fielded complaints from members of the local school community. This micro-qualtitative analysis shows that, despite the heartfelt rhetoric of environmental education, assuming an environmental identity at school can be problematic and difficult to enact. Environmental action is still not seen as a “cool” social practice in some adolescent peer groups. Nor is environmental action positioned as central to the “legitimate” practices of schooling in some communities. Successful projects rely on students and staff who are willing to actively, and persitently, negotiate social opposition to their achieving an ecological vision for school practice.



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