Document Type

Journal Article

Publication Title

Ethics and Social Welfare


Taylor & Francis


School of Arts and Humanities




Gorman, J., Baker, A., Corney, T., & Cooper, T. (2024). Youth and community work for climate justice: Towards an ecocentric ethics for practice. Ethics and Social Welfare. Advance online publication.


This paper traces an expanded ethical perspective for youth and community work (YCW) practice in response to the climate and biodiversity crises. Discussing ecological ethics, we problematise the liberal humanist emphasis on utilitarianism and reject it as inappropriate for YCW in these times. Instead, we argue for an ecocentric practice ethic which intrinsically values the non-human world. To advance an ecocentric ethical perspective for YCW we draw on decolonial and posthuman theory. Inspired by a Freirean dialogical approach, we apply these theoretical domains as lenses to problematise YCW practice, seeking a generative dialogue between perspectives. Through this, we identify three emergent tasks for ecocentric YCW: (a) thinking and acting beyond the individual; (b) cultivating reciprocal care and connection and (c) practicing critical pedagogies of place. This third element builds on YCW's social pedagogic tradition and provides a practical means to incorporate ecocentric ideas into practice. We conclude that, given the unprecedented implications of climate crises and biodiversity collapse, a YCW ethics that does not consider these implications for young people is insufficient for the context of practice today. Enacting an ecocentric YCW ethics requires ongoing collective praxis and dialogue between young people, practitioners, educators, managers and students.



Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License.