With this new edition of Youth Culture Uncovered, we are exploring the effects of COVID-19 on today’s young people with the key areas of exploration being Outlook, Learning & Education, Climate and Connection

What are young people’s fears, challenges and anxieties? What new behaviours will they seek to bring with them into a post-emergency landscape? What are their hopes and dreams for the near and far future? What’s life like for young people in the virtual world of learning and work? How are young people connecting and communicating with friends and peers? 

We spend our days looking at the world through the lens of young people. Now more than ever before, research needs a real-time perspective as attitudes and behaviours change daily through the COVID-19 outbreak. This work is designed to understand life from the perspective of 16-35-year-olds, providing insight and intelligence to resonate better with youth audiences, respond to their challenges and ensure continued relevance in the long term. 

The initiative spans three offerings; 

  • DAILY INSIGHTS via Instagram offering a strategic perspective on changing dynamics and different scenarios.
  • VIRTUAL WORKSHOPS which guests can sign up to on THINKHOUSE social channels and attend via Zoom.
  • SWITCH IT UP scenario planning to help find solutions and future pathways for both young people and organisations as they transition towards a COVID-19-free world from unlocking life in lockdown to navigating the new normal.

EARTH DAY x YOUTH: NORMAL WAS A CRISIS

"We need to treat both of these crises at the same time." Greta Thunberg, 17, Sweden 

As part of ‘Emerging in an Emergency’, this week found us exploring the topic of climate change and youth climate activism, in the context of Covid-19.  Wednesday 22nd April marked the 50th anniversary of Earth Day. Despite lockdown measures impacting a drop in carbon emissions - many young people were eager to use the moment to remind individuals, global leaders and older generations in positions of power that ‘normal’ was a crisis. After Covid-19 restrictions lift, we still face the climate crisis. 

We'll clap as the oil companies go out of business.” Theo, 17, Activist and School Striker, Ireland

Connections between planetary and human resilience are more and more evident as the pandemic continues. As we adapt our patterns and behaviours for the greater good of society to tackle Covid-19, change for climate action not only feels possible - the foundations for change are being woven. 

Speaking at a recent webinar with 'SustainAbility' on COVID-19 and sustainability, Futerra's Solitaire Townsend reported the results of a poll exploring people's attitudes to climate in the context of COVID-19. 69% of people (all ages) in the UK said that we should respond to climate change with the same urgency as we have responded to coronavirus. 100% of under 21's agreed. While the poll sample was small (104 people), the sentiment is strong. 

Outside the range of Earth Day initiatives, young activists in Fridays For Future are still striking weekly for climate online, and continue to reinforce the importance of systematic change, strongly indicating that going back to the 'old normal' is not acceptable. 

BRAND TAKEOUTS

Our stories are changing. We are writing them together. Our collective return from COVID-19 may be the defining moment of our generation. For brands, businesses and leaders, Earth Day’s message from young people is a reminder of how we must all rebuild wisely - with eyes wide open. This will mean, amidst  immense pressure to return to ‘business as usual’, a focus on longer-term thinking will need to be held to ensure a triumphant recovery for people, and the planet that holds us. 

Follow Youth Culture Uncovered 2020 via Instagram. Contact theyouthlab@thinkhouse.ie if you would like more information on virtual workshops and ‘Switch It Up’ scenario planning.