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Ontario Institute for Studies in Education of the University of Toronto

Youth, Theatre, Radical Hope and the Ethical Imaginary: An intercultural investigation of drama pedagogy, performance and civic engagement 


In both the global north and south – in England, Canada, Greece, India, and Taiwan where this collaborative study is situated – growing inequality, economic polarization, and social dislocation are threatening strong pedagogical models of learning and youth citizenship. The stories to be told from this ethnographic research – using theatrical, popular, and scholarly languages – are positioned to uniquely challenge the ubiquitous discourses of problematic, civically disengaged, apathetic youth, and irrelevant arts practices. The lives, and life prospects, of young people have been destabilized by global economic and political uncertainty. Social and educational policies, as well as popular cultural representations of youth, are often sorely lacking youth perspectives and understandings. This project provides such a forum for knowledge building and sharing with youth and a broader set of actors invested in improving opportunities for young people. Building on my previous SSHRC-funded study examining artistic, social and academic engagement in young people’s school lives, the proposed research interrogates the connection between engaged youth and a thriving democracy by examining the aspirational ideals of democratic theories, the pragmatic conditions of classrooms, and a theatre pedagogy focused on collectively produced and digitally shared work.