Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)



Program Name/Specialization

Community Psychology


Faculty of Science

First Advisor

Manuel Riemer

Advisor Role

Thesis Supervisor


Young people have been identified as key stakeholders in taking a leadership role in addressing environmental issues, but more research is required to find out how to sustain young people’s motivation for environmental action over time. The present study investigated this through narrative interviews with eleven environmental leaders who attended a conference called IMPACT! Youth Conference for Sustainability Leadership in 2009 or 2011. Drawing upon the literature on life paths to environmental action (Almers, 2013; Chan, 2009; Chawla, 1998, 1999; Harré, Tepavac, & Bullen, 2009) the interviews incorporated an exercise that asked participants to plot important events in their lives and to use the events to graph their engagement over time. The data analyzed included interviews that built upon these engagement graphs drawn by participants during the interviews. The findings indicated that competency (the knowledge of an issue, skill-development and self-efficacy), identity development and relatedness (sense of community) were highest while participants attended university. Competency and identity development were found to be cumulative, but relatedness fluctuated, directly impacting the level of engagement participants had. Developing a supportive community and finding relatedness appears to be important for facilitating sustained engagement in action. This study provides important insight into how young people can motivate themselves and be supported to sustain their environmental engagement over time.

Convocation Year


Convocation Season