Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)



Program Name/Specialization

Community Psychology


Faculty of Science

First Advisor

Dr. Manuel Riemer

Advisor Role



Youth leadership is a critical factor in creating momentum for a cultural shift in sustainability practices and can be fostered through youth leadership programs. While evidence exists showing youth environmental programs are able to promote program participant leadership, it is not yet known to what degree these participants are able to improve the environmental engagement of members of their social networks. This “ripple effect” is assessed in the current study through the context of the Make-A-Difference (MAD) Youth Sustainability Leadership Program in New Zealand. The program involves a 3-day social gathering (hui) and ongoing support for several following years. The ripple effect of environmental engagement is explored using a 4-phase mixed-methods design with 30 participants of the MAD program and 6 members of their social networks as participants. Results indicate that MAD participants undergo transformational changes during the MAD program, including developing an identity of a change agent and becoming a member of the MAD community. Together, these personal changes and the ongoing support from MAD program staff contribute to MAD participants’ ability to influence members of their social networks through a variety of approaches. These influences include increased environmental knowledge, personal practice changes, and environmental action participation as well as leadership.

Convocation Year


Convocation Season