Student-made card deck calls for climate action at United Nations conference

September 3, 2021

Our world is experiencing a climate emergency, and it is essential that we listen to young people when addressing this critical issue. This is the basis for a project by some enterprising Sun Devils.  

ASU student Saiarchana Darira

Saiarchana Darira and Jesse Mihaila are two undergraduate students working as the asssitant producers for Turn It Around! Flashcards for Education Futures, a card deck project that calls for climate action. 

Darira is a senior triple majoring in global management, social and cultural analysis (peace studies) and psychology. She is also minoring in sustainability. Jesse Mihaila is a film and social justice and human rights major. 

Darira was introduced to this project by two ASU professors, Iveta Silova and Ann Nielsen, through the Humanities Lab class Feeling Climate Uncertainty, with Professors Adriene Jenik and Scott Cloutier. 

“We focused on understanding ways people can navigate the emotions that come with climate change,” Darira said. “Through this lab, I helped out in the Turn It Around! project and then eventually became the assistant producer.” 

Darira and Mihaila, along with their team, collected submissions for this card deck over the summer of 2021, and a team of nine reviewers went through the submissions and finalized the final card deck. 

The card deck will consist of artwork and written responses, designed by youth under the age of 25, describing what change they hope to see in environmental policy and education.

The deck will be produced in three different languages (English, French and Spanish) by Belen A. Sanchez and Esther do Lago e Pretti, two doctoral students at Arizona State University. Sanchez is pursuing her Ph.D. in Spanish literature and culture, and Pretti is earning her Ph.D in education policy and evaluation.

“I think this project is important because there is so much misinformation out there about climate change. It's also important that the younger generations that have to deal with the consequences of climate change make their voices heard,” Mihaila said.

Jesse Mihaila portrait

ASU student Jesse Mihaila

ASU and the Artists' Literacies Institute, with the support of UNESCO's Futures of Education Initiative and Open Society Foundations, are creating this card deck to present to policymakers at the 2021 United Nations COP26 Climate Change Conference in Glasgow, Scotland. 

“Usually, flashcards are designed by educators for students and children. This deck of flashcards will be designed by youth for education policymakers, politicians and teachers — to challenge them to think, see and act in new ways,” Darira said. 

This card deck will be printed and distributed to global leaders at international gatherings to enable young people’s voices and visions to resonate throughout these critical discussions. The cards will also be circulated to educators for ongoing use in classrooms to provoke discussions about the role of education, young people, students and collective action in addressing the climate crisis.

The overall goal of this project is to uplift the voices of youth in climate action, and Darira and Mihaila hope it will also inspire an ongoing discussion about quality climate education and how we can collectively address the climate crisis. 

“The youth are the ones who will have to take on this world and experience climate change the most, and it is essential that their ideas and thoughts are heard by leaders of this world in COP26 and beyond,” Darira said.

The project is also a unique way to emphasize that youth have a lot to teach the world. 

“By flipping who teaches who, this project is a reminder that everyone — and everything — must change. Climate disruption, loss of biodiversity, overuse of Earth’s resources, and ecological collapse threaten all life on earth,” Darira said.

You can also stay up to date with the project on the Turn It Around website, Instagram: @turnitaroundcards, Twitter: @TIAflashcards and Facebook: @turnitaroundcards.