Goals and Research Questions

Project Goals

“Responses to Greta Thunberg in International Media” is a collaborative research project conducted by undergraduate students at St. Olaf College, under the direction of Jenna Coughlin, PhD (Visiting Assistant Professor of Norwegian). This project has three main purposes:

For learners and teachers in upper elementary/secondary school:

  1. To introduce young audiences (grades 7-12) to the actions and speeches of Greta Thunberg through an online learning module that can be used in the classroom, for distance learning, or in an independent learning setting.
  2. To instruct young learners (grades 7-12) on how to analyze Thunberg’s speeches by paying attention to her rhetorical strategies, as well as how to use her as a model writer whose techniques and skills they can emulate to make their own persuasive writing more effective.

For students and researchers in higher education:

3. To facilitate research on the reception of Greta Thunberg in different countries and language contexts by compiling a comprehensive bibliography of opinion pieces written in response to Thunberg’s speeches and activism. The bibliography will eventually be tagged and searchable by traits such as country of publication, language, subject, political leaning, and so forth.

Background and Research Questions

The resources designed to meet goals 1 and 2 on this website have been created by St. Olaf students. In ongoing research courses, students have also helped to create the bibliography and then use it to conduct research comparing the rhetoric used in responses to Thunberg from Scandinavia (specifically, Norway and Sweden) with responses published in the United States. These courses have included student participants whose major fields of study include Norwegian, Environmental Studies, English, and Nordic Studies. 

Questions addressed in these courses include:

1) How has Thunberg’s rhetoric and activism been received differently within versus outside Scandinavia, as well as in different Scandinavian countries? 

2) How does public discourse about climate change vary both within Scandinavia and between Scandinavia and the US with respect to issues raised by Thunberg, particularly adults’ responsibility to future generations, the legitimacy of youth climate activists, and the potential for young people to impact policies of national importance? 

3) What do the answers to these questions suggest about how a global phenomenon like climate change is experienced at the local level?