New innovative trail in Oxford designed to encourage positive engagement with environmental change among young people

Oxford University researchers have launched a new digital trail aiming to address anxiety about climate change, reframing the stories of historical artefacts through the lens of environmental change.

Six of Oxford University's Gardens, Libraries and Museums, along with the Rumble Museum at Cheney School, have collaborated with Oxford University researchers to create an interactive and educational activity. The trail can be completed in person or online and offers multimedia storytelling from Oxford researchers, museum staff, and young people, providing insight into the connections between historical items and environmental change. It emphasizes hope, resilience, transformation and innovation as essential elements in protecting our planet.

Bill Finnegan from the Environmental Change Institute (ECI), the project's creator, explains that the trail was inspired by his research on climate education and the importance of instilling hope in young people. Each artefact featured in the trail tells its story through the lens of environmental change, offering a valuable perspective on current environmental challenges and potential solutions.

Dr. Tina Fawcett, Senior Researcher and Associate Professor at the ECI, highlights that the trail provides an opportunity to identify and manage emotions surrounding environmental change. It aims to empower individuals to take positive action in addressing the climate crisis.

The trail is designed for students aged 7-14 (key stages 2 and 3) and is suitable for teachers bringing school groups to Oxford museums. Young people played a significant role in designing the project, contributing to exhibit selection, research, and creating interactive digital content.

A survey (Hickman et al, 2021) of 10,000 young people aged 16-25 across ten countries found that 59% were very or extremely worried about climate change, with 84% expressing at least moderate concern. Emotions such as sadness, anxiety, anger, powerlessness, helplessness, and guilt were commonly reported, impacting daily life for over 45% of respondents.

Entry to all museums and the Weston Library is free, while the Oxford Botanic Garden offers free admission to children under 16. The trail aims to engage families and provide an exciting summer activity for children.

All partners involved in the project will evaluate the learning experience to contribute to future research on environmental issues. The trail aspires to inspire and engage a new generation of environmentally conscious individuals who can drive positive change in our world.


Find out more

View Museum of Climate Hope Trail