Photo of Maria Ojala

Maria Ojala

Örebro University
Email maria.ojala [at] oru [period/dot] se

Maria’s research concerns how young people (late childhood to young adulthood) think, feel, act, learn, and communicate about climate change. She focuses on climate skepticism, hope based on denial, and climate delay strategies, but foremost on constructive ways of relating to this problem like climate activism, prefigurative politics/practice, meaning-focused coping, constructive hope, and dialectical thinking. Maria has introduced, published about, and are currently developing, the concept of “critical emotional awareness” as an important competence to promote in climate change education/communication in order for young people to avoid fact resistance, see through attempts to steer through emotions, and face difficult climate emotions.

Maria Ojala’s website.


Ojala, M., Cunsolo, A., & Ogunbode, C., & Middleton, J. (2021). “Anxiety, worry, and grief in a time of environmental and climate crisis. A narrative review.” Annual Review of Environment and Resources, 46.

Ojala, M. (2021). “Safe spaces or a pedagogy of discomfort? Senior high-school teachers’ meta-emotion philosophies and climate change education.” Journal of Environmental Education, 52(1), 40-52.

Maria Ojala. 2020. “When young people worry about climate change,” Tomorrow’s Earth Stewards (August 2020).

Maria Ojala & Hans Bengtsson. 2019. “Young People’s Coping Strategies Concerning Climate Change: Relations to Perceived Communication with Parents and Friends and Pro-Environmental Behavior,” Environment and Behavior (October 2019).

Maria Ojala. 2019. “Eco-anxiety,” Royal Society of Arts Journal (February 2019).

Maria Ojala & Yuliya Lakew. 2017. “Young people and climate change communication” Oxford Encyclopedia of climate change communication,” Oxford Research Encyclopedia (April 2017).

Maria Ojala. 2016. “Facing anxiety in climate change education: From therapeutic practice to hopeful transgressive learning,” Canadian Journal of Environmental Education (2016).

Maria Ojala. 2015. “Climate change skepticism among adolescents,” Journal of Youth Studies (March 2015).

Maria Ojala. 2012. “Hope and climate change: The importance of hope for pro-environmental engagement among young people,” Environmental Education Research (2012).

Maria Ojala. 2012. “Regulating worry, promoting hope: How do children, adolescents, and young adults cope with climate change?International Journal of Environmental and Science Education (October 2012).

Maria Ojala. 2012. “How do children cope with global climate change? Coping strategies, engagement, and well-being,” Journal of Environmental Psychology (September 2012).

Media Coverage

Så pratar du med barn om klimatet,” Extrakt. January 14, 2021.

Maria Ojala was interviewed by the NYTimes about her research on child psychology and climate change: “Maria Ojala, a psychologist at Örebro University in Sweden, found in a study of Swedish 12-year-olds that while such “problem-focused” strategies can help change behavior, “meaning-focused” strategies — actions or attitudes that recognize the long-term, collective work required to address global challenges — are more likely to encourage a broader optimism about the future.” Plant a Love of Nature in Your Kids,” Nijhuis M. The New York Times. April 16, 2021.

Maria Ojala’s research about the distinction between optimism and constructive hope featured by William Finnegan. Homeschooling during coronavirus: five ways to teach children about climate change,” The Conversation, April 7, 2020.

Maria Ojala interviewed on hope of Generation Z by Diego Arguedas Ortiz. Is it wrong to be hopeful about climate change? BBC Futures, January 9, 2020.

Maria Ojala quoted by Jillian Mock and Claire O’Neill. One Thing You Can Do: Talk to Your Children About Climate Change,” New York Times, October 9, 2019.

Maria Ojala interviewed on hope of Generation Z by Julia Rosen. What’s behind the youth movement to tackle climate change? Fear – but also hope,” Los Angeles Times, September 19, 2019.

Maria Ojala interviewed on climate anxiety as a rational response by Isobel Whitcomb. The Barrage of Bad News About Climate Change Is Triggering ‘Eco-Anxiety,’ Psychologists say,” Live Science, July, 2, 2019.

Maria Ojala interviewed on climate anxiety as a rational response by Dante Thomson. Greta Thunbergs väg från skolstrejkande tonåring till ikon,” SVT (Swedish National Television), April 26, 2019.

Maria Ojala interviewed on climate anxiety as a rational response by Anne Grietje Franssen. De Zweden raken in de ban van vliegschaamte en klimaatangst,” Trouw, March 1, 2019.