From Hopelessness to Transformation in Geography Classrooms

Brian Petersen, Jessica R. Barnes

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

10 Scopus citations


We renew a call for action and build on work by geographers and others who have detailed how hopelessness emerges and the consequences this has for teaching and learning about the environment in universities. Scholars have written about a sense of hopelessness in students and faculty, anecdotal evidence supports it, and a survey we distributed in our courses confirms it. Here we contribute to this ongoing conversation by examining possibilities and limitations college teachers navigate when trying to implement teaching strategies that may help foster hope and agency in their students in relation to environmental issues. We conclude by putting forth three steps for educators to initiate efforts to encourage a sense of possibility in students and conclude with specific actions educators can take individually and collectively to overcome hopelessness in university classrooms and beyond.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)3-11
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Geography
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2 2020


  • College teaching
  • critical pedagogy
  • hopelessness
  • neoliberalism

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geography, Planning and Development
  • Earth-Surface Processes


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