For at least three decades, young people (younger than 30 years of age for the purposes of this work) have sought to intervene in adult-dominated policy and lawmaking processes around the issue of climate change. Within the last 15 years, young people have formed large-scale, transnational protest movements, launched climate change lawsuits, and disrupted formal (climate) governance processes at many scales and in many sites. Through case studies of youth activism in the Fridays for Future Movement, Sunrise Movement, climate litigation efforts and the United Nations climate policy process, this research seeks to understand the histories, possibilities, challenges, and outcomes of youth activism in contemporary U.S. and global institutional climate politics. I bring together participant observation and ethnographic fieldwork, interviews, and digital archival and storytelling approaches to understand the work of youth movements across physical and digital spaces of influence, from the halls of the U.N. to the transient but consequential public spheres created through Twitter hashtags, to elaborate how transnational youth movements offer distinct visions of climate justice.
About the speaker
Mark Ortiz (he/him) is a President’s Postdoctoral Fellow in the Department of Geography at Penn State. He obtained a Ph.D. in geography from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in 2022 and completed undergraduate studies in Environmental Politics at the University of Alabama in 2015. His research interests include youth climate movements, climate change ethics and politics, and cultural representations and imaginaries of climate crisis. He is a scholar-activist who has worked closely with climate justice movements at various scales and serves on the leadership team of the North Carolina Climate Justice Collective. He is currently developing a book project on transnational youth climate activism and the global politics of climate change building on his National Science Foundation-funded dissertation research.