Dr Cleonice Puggian shared with LAPE her recent research with a fascinating presentation. Her study aimed to describe young people’s knowledge about environmental injustices affecting their communities; to identify coping strategies produced by research participants, recording and sharing with community members and local governments their contributions to policy and environmental education; to explore how information technologies (Facebook and WhatsApp) may enhance dialogue between young people impacted by environmental injustices in different areas, articulating local, regional and global views.
The methodology is qualitative, adopting a participatory and youth centered approach. Data is being collected through: participant observation, semi-structured interviews and activities integrating photography, video making and groups on Facebook and WhatsApp. Fieldwork has been carried out in three public schools in the cities of Duque de Caxias, Nova Iguaçu and Mage. The first is school is located near the Landfill of Gramacho, the second at the Biological Reserve of Tingua, and the third at the Beach of Mauá. Data analysis has been guided by a grounded theory approach.
Across Jardim Gramacho (Duque de Caxias), Mauá (Magé) and Tinguá (Nova Iguaçu) where the studies focused, the results showed that environmental injustices are rarely addressed across the curriculum. In schools, projects were undertaken by the personal initiative of teachers, who often lectured the geography and science courses (biology). Whilst teachers rarely lived in the neighbourhoods where they worked, those who participated in training courses on social and environmental inequalities in their communities proved to be sensitized and more inclined to address these issues with elementary school students. Many teachers associated the concept of environmental justice with legislation and environmental law. We also noted the importance of continuing education courses that take place in schools. Although students were curious about the environmental injustices in their communities, most of the information they received came through the teachers, television and other mass media such as radio.
Dr Cleonice Puggian concluded that schools were central in the lives of students and that there is a need for a political approach to enable young people to confront injustice and act to promote a more just society, articulating the local and global concerns through new networks of communication and collective action through public education, committed to the right to life. There is a pedagogical dimension of environmental conflict and there was a recurrence of environmental conflicts related to the availability and access to clean water.