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Citizen Inquiry

Charlotte is making sure that young voices are heard

A former youth worker, Dr Charlotte Dean devotes her professional life to working with young people. She is at the forefront of embedding Citizen Inquiry (Citizen Science + Inquiry-Based Learning) at the University of Hull. Working with a range of public and community stakeholders, she explores the barriers and challenges faced by those who want to get involved and tackle issues that affect their lives. Can young people lead the debate and offer solutions? Charlotte thinks they can.

Charlotte uses participatory techniques to co-create solutions to some of the major challenges of our time. For the Evolving a Circular Plastics Economy project, she has been exploring issues around single use plastic with young people. The aim was to make new products, educational resources and campaigns to educate and involve adults and young people alike. Plastic Citizen combines a Citizen Inquiry approach with everyday technology such as mobile phones, opening up the work to young researchers.

Young people designed the research methodology including an open source survey, using the NQuire platform.  Much of this work is done online with resources and activities which are supplied to schools. Social media sites such as Twitter have also played a part.  Young people made various digital products during the project and also a film about plastic waste. 

+R+R+RAP Plastic Citizen Project video
Charlotte Dean

Dr. Charlotte Dean

Lecturer in Education/Postdoctoral Researcher

And plastics are not the only focus of Charlotte’s work. Other projects include working with the University of Hull’s Inclusion and Social Justice Research Group(scroll down), to co-create with young people in care, an animated film and accompanying teaching resource pack which explores the educational experience of young people in care. Charlotte and colleague Lisa Jones worked with local arts company My Pockets and the East Riding of Yorkshire Children in Care Council to produce an animated film to help educate teachers about some of the issues faced in school by young people in care.


The Just Like Our Lives film, which was co-created with the East Riding Children in Care Council, gives these young people a voice, has had over 2650 views, and was shortlisted for the World Health Organisation Health for All, Scout, Making a Positive Difference and Lift Off international Film Festivals.


The Rewilding Reading project was funded by the Ferens Education Trust and facilitated a series of Rewilding Reading events in which the University of Hull, Hull Libraries, the Schools Information Service, Child Dynamix, Probe Ltd and Hull City Council Youth Development Service invited young people living in disadvantaged areas of Hull to engage with bushcraft and storytelling events which took place in urban wild spaces close to them. The events aimed to inspire young people to engage with wild literature through participation in wild bushcraft activities and immersion in wild storytelling. Watch the film, made by Flygirl Films to find out more!

Rewilding Reading
We have put trust in these young people and they have risen to that challenge and they have really taken ownership. I always think that’s awe-inspiring, when you give people the power to be able to do something
Charlotte Dean

Dr. Charlotte Dean

Lecturer in Education/Postdoctoral Research Assistant

What drives you in your work with young people?

I just really love working with young people, they have the most amazing ideas, especially around dealing with climate change and the environment and I am really passionate about doing everything I can to support those ideas to become actions that will change the world!

Tell us more about your work with young people overseas

As part of the Plastic Citizen project we visited the Jugendklimarat (Youth Climate Council) in Bremerhaven who are a group of really inspirational young people working to tackle the causes of climate change. We are now working on funding applications for working with young people to explore the best ways establish similar groups in Spain, Norway and the UK.

What impact can you see from your research?

I think that the creative participatory research methods that I use in my work has a real impact, particularly citizen inquiry, which is all about letting the 'citizens' i.e. young people, communities etc. decide the best way to tackle the research areas in question. I also like to explore how digital technology can be used creatively in research and have been involved in some fantastic projects where young people have created films, music, websites, ebooks and digital apps which really give a voice to their research findings.

Community Impact

  • The Citizen Inquiry approach puts young people and communities at the heart of our research
  • The Plastic Citizen project facilitates environmental agency in young people
  • Raising aspirations and skills
  • Supporting public engagement and knowledge exchange