Augmented reality and multi-media experiential approaches for advancing youth empowerment in climate-affected and resource-scarce pandemic contexts

Logie, Carmen | $237,948

Ontario University of Toronto 2021 SSHRC

OBJECTIVES: Climate change increases extreme weather events (EWE) such as droughts and floods, contributing to food, water, and sanitation insecurity. These resource scarcities have worsened in the COVID‑19 pandemic. Very young adolescents (VYA) aged 10-14 comprise half of the 1.2 billion adolescent population, are deeply affected by climate-related factors, yet are under-represented in pandemic research. Kenya is an exemplary context to develop new directions in research methodologies for community engagement and empowerment with VYA. Kenya is impacted by EWE, and there is widespread food, water and sanitation insecurity. Youth under 15 years comprise 39% of the population. Objectives: Work with VYA aged 10-14 in Kenya to develop a) innovative audio-visual and participatory mapping geographical information systems (GIS) methods to understand pandemic wellbeing; b) intergenerational learning between VYA and Elders to share knowledge of adaptation, coping, and emergency response; and c) community augmented reality (AR) walking experiences.

APPROACH: Working with an existing cohort of VYA aged 10-14 in 6 Kenyan climate-affected contexts (Kalobeyei refugee settlement, Kisumu, Mandera, Nairobi, Naivasha, Kilifi) this 1-year transformative multi-method study will involve two phases. Phase 1: arts-based digital methods (participatory maps, audio stories and songs) with youth (aged 10-14) (n=20/site, N=120) and elders (n=10/site, N=60). Phase 2: develop an augmented reality (AR) experience of youth and elder stories on place, pandemic stress, and coping. AR, technologies that bridge virtual and real environments, overlay the real with virtual information and interactive components. AR offers a place-based pedagogy and situated learning of real-world issues and embodied stories to generate problem solving on environmental and equity issues. We will implement community AR mobile museum walks (n=40/community, N=240) to spark community dialogue and action plans.

NOVELTY & EXPECTED SIGNIFICANCE: 1) New directions for in-situ, placed-based research with digital tools. 2) Multi-media documentation of intergenerational climate change adaptation and disaster/pandemic coping. Compared to virtual reality, AR reduces the cost, increases the immersive nature of the experience, and increases feasibility in LMIC. Risk: AR has not been used with VYA in LMIC, including humanitarian contexts. Impact: new digital empowerment approaches; bridge digital divide in LMIC.

With funding from the Government of Canada

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