Youth TikTok production as public pedagogy towards liveable climate futures


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This is one of two research projects examining how young people will use social media to respond to alarming future events. Melbourne is the home institution for this project. View the KU Leuven-based partner project.

This project is no longer accepting new applications until further notice.

This youth-focused project will undertake both an analysis of youth social media productions (via the digital platform, TikTok), as well as a survey and interviews with youth in both Australia and Europe on their experiences and intentions regarding TikTok as a form of critical public pedagogy on climate change.

The project will explore key narratives, anticipated audiences, and other aspects of whether and how youth intend for their TikTok videos to be taken up as forms of public pedagogy and solidarity building in relation to their global climate futures. In doing so, the project considers the increasingly global forms of social organisation shaped through the circulations of collective effect through digital media participation and their effects on orientations to climate change both within and across national borders. The project will engage with digital media and affect theory, critical literacies, and the environmental humanities with implications for qualitative and educational research.

A central objective of this project is the development, demonstration, and dissemination of young people’s creative productions through TikTok as a view into their situated understanding, anxieties, and imaginative solutions related to climate change, technology, and the future.

Supervision team

The University of Melbourne: Professor Marcia McKenzie and Dr Sarah E. Truman

KU Leuven: Professor Karin Hannes and Professor Steven Devleminck

*Click on the researcher's name above to learn more about their publication and grant successes.

Who we are looking for

We are seeking a PhD candidate with the following skills:

  • Demonstrated research experience in the fields of social sciences, education, or humanities.
  • Demonstrated scholarly engagement with critical theory, affect theory, environmental humanities, critical digital literacies, climate communication and/or media studies.
  • Demonstrated critical engagement with diverse (social) media platforms.
  • Demonstrated ability to write academic papers to a publishable standard.
  • Demonstrated organisational skills, time management and ability to work to priorities.
  • Commitment to full-time study (40-hour week) and undertaking 12 months of research in Leuven, Belgium.

Further details

The PhD candidate will benefit from the combined expertise of the project supervisors, and the embedding into two research environments. This PhD project will be based at the University of Melbourne with a minimum 12-month stay at KU Leuven. The candidate will be enrolled in the PhD program at the Melbourne Graduate School of Education at the University of Melbourne, and in the PhD program at the Faculty of Social Sciences at KU Leuven.

Professor Marcia McKenzie is an international leader in climate and sustainability education, and also has overlapping methodological interests and expertise. She leads a large-scale $4M Canadian global collaboration - the MECCE Project - which provides many opportunities for the students and for cross-pollination with KU Leuven, such as through the project’s 30 funded case studies and international team meetings.

Dr Sarah E. Truman has an international reputation for innovative methodologies at the intersection of the arts, theory, and research in the social sciences. Truman co-directs the Literary Education Lab at the University of Melbourne, the international research-creation project WalkingLab, and was awarded a DECRA 2022-2025 for research on youth cultural productions of science fiction in Australia, Canada, and Wales.

Professor Karin Hannes is an international leader in innovative methodologies for social science research, including futuring methodologies. She leads an annual European qualitative research event that is world-renowned, with opportunities for interactions and collaborations with international researchers leading new methods of qualitative research. The KU Leuven transdisciplinary research group SoMeTHin’K, coordinated by Prof Hannes, will help advance innovative approaches to the analysis of digital research data in shaping the PhD research projects. She has extensive experience in engaging and working with societal stakeholders from a transnational cross-comparative qualitative research perspective, as evidenced in some of her research papers.

Professor Steven Devleminck is the coordinator of the Master Media and Information Design (MIND) and the Head of the Mediated Environments Research Cluster at LUCA School of Arts where he teaches data visualization, interface design and new media art and culture. He is also a part-time Professor at the Faculty of Engineering Technology, Department of Computer Sciences at KU Leuven.

This project is no longer accepting new applications until further notice.

First published on 8 February 2022.

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