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Katie Parsons

Mrs Katie Parsons

Researcher

Faculty and Department

  • Institutes
  • Energy and Environmental Institute

Qualifications

  • PhD (University of Hull)

Summary

Katie is a transdisciplinary researcher, who works part time on her research and part time on her PhD. Katie's PhD is investigating the lived experiences of children and young peoples relationships with the natural environment. Her research looks at how the relationship with the natural environment has evolved during and after the Covid pandemic and how this has impacted children and young people.

Katie's researcher role allows her to work on a number of University wide projects, working with the Energy and Environment Institute, the Faculty of Science and the School of Education. Here Katie uses her previous career experience to collaborate with children, young people and communities to explore or mitigate environmental or climate change issues. Katie is an advocate for children's and youth voice and this is central to her practice. She uses creative and participatory methodologies that she has adjusted from previous experience of working with play and creative therapies.

Katie has recently developed the Climate Change Essential CPD which brings together her own educational approach of Knowledge, Exploration and Answers and Solutions and Actions with expertise from the world-renowned Energy and Environment Institute at the University of Hull. Katie created this short programme which combines light-touch theory with practical and interactive approaches to learning about climate science, climate justice, the regulatory environment, and the action we can all take now in our personal and professional lives to make a difference.

Additionally Katie has taught on the Social Change and Social Justice module alongside Lisa Jones and has delivered Forest School sessions to undergraduate students within the Education suite programmes.

Recent outputs

View more outputs

Journal Article

In it together! Cultivating space for intergenerational dialogue, empathy and hope in a climate of uncertainty.

Hayes, T., Walker, C., Parsons, K., Arya, D., Bowman, B., Germaine, C., …Thew, H. (in press). In it together! Cultivating space for intergenerational dialogue, empathy and hope in a climate of uncertainty. Children's Geographies, https://doi.org/10.1080/14733285.2022.2121915

Gendered childhoods and the inequity of accessing the outdoors

Parsons, K. J., & Halstead, F. (2022). Gendered childhoods and the inequity of accessing the outdoors. Area, https://doi.org/10.1111/area.12831

2020-Vision: understanding climate (in)action through the emotional lens of loss

Jones, L., Halstead, F., Parsons, K., Le, H., Ha Bui, L. T., Hackney, C., & Parsons, D. (in press). 2020-Vision: understanding climate (in)action through the emotional lens of loss. Journal of the British Academy, 9(s5), 29-68. https://doi.org/10.5871/jba/009s5.029

A journey of emotions from a young environmental activist

Halstead, F., Parsons, L. R., Dunhill, A., & Parsons, K. (2021). A journey of emotions from a young environmental activist. Area, https://doi.org/10.1111/area.12745

Other

How students can use storytelling to bring the dangers of climate change to life

Parsons, K., Halstead, F., & Jones, L. (2021). How students can use storytelling to bring the dangers of climate change to life

Research interests

Katie is interested in outdoor learning (green, blue and grey spaces), environmental education and climate literacy, climate change, climate justice, children and youths voice, community led initiatives, citizen science, social action, playful approaches and making education and knowledge accessible to all.

Project

Funder

Grant

Started

Status

Project

Mindful

Funder

Wellcome Trust

Grant

£500.00

Started

1 October 2021

Status

Complete

Project

WhoseSpace Derringham?

Funder

Wellcome Trust

Grant

£5,380.00

Started

1 November 2021

Status

Complete

Project

Digital Tools - Next Steps: Developing Learning Resources with Schools

Funder

Environment Agency

Grant

£12,770.00

Started

20 September 2021

Status

Complete

Project

HedgeHunters book research

Funder

The Earnest Cook Trust

Grant

£5,000.00

Started

1 September 2021

Status

Complete

Charity role

Member of The Deep ethics committee

2018

Family research advisor for the National Children's Bureau (NCB)

2018

Conference presentation

EGU General Assembly 2021: Mapping hedgerow gaps and fostering positive environmental behaviours through a combination of citizen scientists and artificial intelligence

2021

To meet CO2 reduction targets, the UK aims to plant c1.5 billion trees by 2050. Gaps within thousands of miles of hedgerows across the country are potentially suitable planting sites, but the extent of gaps and suitability for replanting are currently unknown. Maximising the potential growth of hedgerows however appears to receive relatively little attention compared with wide area tree planting. Hedgerow gaps present the opportunity for tree planting, contributing towards the annual tree-planting goals and net-zero CO2 plan as part of Defra’s 25-year objectives (HM Government, 2018), without requiring extensive land change. Our ambitions of fostering a greener society and meeting net zero goals is heavily reliant on ensuring that children and youth are engaged with environmental concerns and have the right skills and knowledge for future careers. This project has been engaging with youth organisations to enhance their environmental and digital knowledge, whilst combining their input with state-of-the-art artificial-intelligence approaches. The open dataset created with public contributions will inform planting decisions whilst educating young people and citizens. The aligned education programme will provide resources detailing how new planting will drawdown CO2, reduce flood risk and increase biodiversity availability, ultimately fostering the participants as agents of change in addressing the climate crisis. Citizens will be trained in hedgerow surveying techniques, with focus on both remote sensing/geographic information systems applications (GIS) and field surveying - enabling contributions from home (during COVID) as well as encouraging outdoor activity and learning. Through a series of surveys and tasks, citizens are able to utilise a smartphone device (or similar) to contribute new data into an open survey on hedgerow characteristics, simple field experimental measurements and images/videos, all whilst utilising the GPS built into the device. The objectives of the project are two-fold: first, data collected by citizens will be used to refine an existing deep learning model trained to identify hedgerow gaps from high-resolution earth observation imagery. Second, to encourage citizens to learn about and take ownership of their local environment, contributing to the fostering of a nation of climate champions

EGU General Assembly 2021: INtergenerational Stories of Erosion and Coastal community Understanding of REsilience ‘INSECURE’

2021

The Holderness has some of the most rapidly eroding coastline in the world, with sections of cliff retreating >10m per year. These rates are due, in large part, to the soft composition of the boulder clay cliffs, but rates are accelerating rapidly in response to climate drivers, particularly storminess and sea-level rise, which is increasing wave loading. Withernsea High is a local community school situated close to the eroding cliffs and thus the school students see the day-to-day effects of their changing coastline. Many of these pupils live within the communities that have ongoing threats of retreating cliffs, with many properties already lost into the sea. The INSECURE project has used a matrix of participatory research methods to explore how young people engage, examine and understand coastal change within the context of their place within communities. Students were engaged in an education programme to skill them with knowledge and capability to capture their stories and the narratives of their communities. As such this study has been fully youth-led and participants have collected a suite of intergenerational stories from members of the community and the long-term impacts of coastal change. After analysing their data, the young people are using their voice to retell these stories using a variety of creative storytelling methods in order to re-engage their audiences. The outputs are a range of creative short stories, poems and photographs that enable these stories to be told through the eyes of youth. The outcomes of this project will raise awareness and understanding of coastal change and how communities live with these natural processes that are being exacerbated by climate change and will also measure the impact of the project in addressing climate change knowledge and fostering engagement with the environment and broader social action within the communities

Global Youth Summit: COP26 - HedgeHunters

2021

In the UK alone, Hedgerows comprise of an estimated 2.6 million tonnes of carbon. These hedgerows are vitally important biodiversity corridors and provide an important role in controlling hydrological pathways. Gaps within the many thousands of miles of hedgerow across the UK are potentially suitable sites for the c1.5 billion trees the UK aims to plant by 2050 as part of addressing the carbon net zero targets. Filling these gaps with hedgerows, which take up less space, could be a very valuable contribution that may help avoid the need for wide area planting and extensive landscape change. One side of our project is combining remote sensing and artificial intelligence to determine the number and scale of hedgerow gaps. However, this work additionally needs validation, and to do this we are using both GIS and field surveys which in turn guide the artificial intelligence routines. The other dimension to our project is understanding that to bring together the ambition of fostering a greener society and to meet the net zero goals we need to ensure that children and youth are engaged with environmental concerns and have the right skills and knowledge for future careers. As part of this, we have been working with Youth Climate Champions to co-develop the HedgeHunter interface, a tool to be used by citizen scientists nationally for hedgerow surveying and environmental science research. Encouraging citizens to contribution from home as well as inspiring outdoor activity and learning.

EGU General Assembly 2020: From Fear to Hope: The inspiring journey of an 11-year-old Environmental Activist

2020

"When I first became aware of the destruction of the world through climate change, I felt very upset and angry, but also a little worried. What was going to happen to my world? And what was everyone going to do about it, including me?" (Parsons, 2019).The Earth is currently undergoing a sixth global scale ecological crisis. The available science almost unanimously positions human activity at the heart of the cause of this crisis, with anthropogenic emissions of greenhouse gasses, pollution, land degradation and deforestation, all contributing. Recent IPCC reporting has demonstrated a need to curb global warming at 1.5 degrees above the pre-industrial baseline and have highlighted a range of likely impacts of Climate Change should no action be taken, particularly in relation to reducing greenhouse gas emissions to net zero by 2050. Despite this need, policy-based action at a nation state level is largely lacking, with recent talks at COP25 failing to reach agreements. However, a significant global youth movement is now underway, with children and young people taking it upon themselves to highlight a need for climate and environmental action, calling for others to follow. Greta Thunberg and the Fridays For Future (#FFF) movement now regularly appears in mainstream media, highlighting the issues of Climate Change with an emotive narrative centred on the impact of future climate change on today's children and their environments.Whist there is growing literature that explores Youth Activism, to our knowledge, there is no investigation that has followed the emotional journey of a child whom has chosen to take environmental action. Here, we present Lucie Parsons, an 11-year old girl who, after watching BBC's Blue Planet II back in 2017 and seeing the devastation plastic pollution was having on the marine environment and its wildlife, decided to take action and be a champion for positive environmental change. Since then, Lucie has spoken at international conferences, conducted her own research in her primary school, organised regional litter picks, and has become an Ambassador for the national charities iWill and Kids Against Plastic; amongst many other things. As her activism has gained momentum and as she has become more aware of wider environmental issues, her focus on plastic pollution has broadened to include the current climate crisis and environmental degradation as a whole. We will present the highs and lows of Lucie's Environmental Activism and the role that emotion has played in her journey thus far; as well as what she believes to be the achievements in her own science communication and what you as scientists can do to help her in her fight against environmental and climatic change

BERA 2020: Shifting perspectives on nature through pedagogical practices

2020

Parents and teachers are often described as gatekeepers to children’s access to the outdoors and these restraints can impact how relationships are developed with the natural world and environmental knowledge is gained (author). Young people are embarking on a wave of global social action that is beginning to reverse this access, with young people educating adults on the importance of natural environments. Interestingly, only 5% of adults think young people want to take part in social action, compared with 81% of young people who want to contribute towards improving the world (iWill, 2019). We will explore these intergenerational relationships and disconnects, and assess how we as educators can begin a promotion of this positive display of ownership and inclusivity driven by young people’s social action

EGU General Assembly 2019: Ocean Plastics: The Children's Voice

2019

The recent past has seen an explosion of public interest in the significant impact of plastic pollution on the oceans and marine life. This interest is already driving response from policymakers, agencies and industry alike. However, many members of the public confess to not understanding the responses they should be making as individuals, highlighting the need for significant educational drive throughout wider society. Educating through children can be an effective dissemination mechanism and a vector for societal change. This presentation will detail a study on children's views and opinions on plastics in the oceans exploring the knowledge of the issues and concerns they presently have. The United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC) states in articles 12 and 29 that children have a right to participate and be educated on environmental matters. The children's voice can be a powerful force for change, and this presentation will highlight the ways in which this voice can be best harnessed to advance the issues of plastic pollution in the oceans

BECERA 2019 Birmingham: Muddy Knees or Muddy Needs: Parents perceptions of outdoor learning

2019

BECERA 2019 Birmingham

RGS 2019: When crafting goes bad: Exploring barriers to participation-based research using arts and crafts

2019

The deployment of crafts as a methodological approach and participatory tool in research can be rich and rewarding, both for researchers and research participants. However, there are contexts in which the use of crafts can become problematic. Whilst human expression through art and craft is universal, the execution is always culturally mediated. Based on our research experiences in the UK and overseas, we describe some barriers to the successful use of crafts as a participatory research strategy. These barriers can include cultural and educational norms, aesthetic attachment to 'good' craft, gender bias and expectations, and lack of confidence in the researcher's chosen medium. We will put attendees in the position of the research participant, giving them an experiential opportunity to play with their own barriers to making. By illustrating what happens when "crafting goes bad", we highlight the importance of context sensitive methodologies, which maximise inclusivity for all involved.

Membership/Fellowship of professional body

British Educational Research Association (BERA)

2019

Active member of the Nature, Outdoor, Learning and Play group

Postgraduate fellow of the Royal Geographical Society

2017

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