The Seen and Heard academic team is adopting a mixed-method study in which quantitative and qualitative data are collected simultaneously in Malta, Wroclaw and Berlin, to establish young people’s understanding and experience of freedom of expression, in Europe.

Throughout the project, qualitative data is generated with; open questions in 3 questionnaires, the students’ participation in the literature workshop, the creative protest pieces, the documentation of the students’ process in an audiovisual journal, participant observation by the researchers, regular evaluations in the form of check-ins and audio interviews at the end of the project with all participants, and a docuseries documenting the mentoring program in Malta, Wroclaw, and Berlin.
Additionally, quantitative data is generated through a survey run in all three countries with the participation of over 500 students, aged 10-14.

As researchers we are interested in exploring these areas in further detail:
– human rights education as a method of promoting youth participatory citizenship 
– artography as a method of understanding protest and freedom of expression to 
– methodology based on care and intergenerational solidarity 
– co-curating protest with young people transmedially and cross-sectorally. 

Using the idea of ‘creative protest’ as a basis for social change, the project places youth at risk of marginalisation and exclusion, at the centre of political dialogue through blended learning experiences and sustained support from researchers, educators, artists, activists, publishers, and policy makers.

The project develops in three phases across three countries; research on human rights with 10 to 14-year-old children in schools, a freedom of expression and creative protest mentoring programme, and the launch of a social movement.

While working with the participants, researchers are mentoring the young people to understand better how stories and storytelling can help them express themselves as they speak out about matters that are important to them. Adopting a methodology of care, alongside that of artography, the interdisciplinary team is keen to ensure that we reciprocate the learning we receive from our data collection with the children involved. They will receive updates on the research results, as well as human rights training. Additionally, they will be invited to participate in creative protest illustration workshops with visual artists, including award-winning illustrator Chris Riddell, and communal dreaming and writing workshops with the author, Sita Brahmachari, among others. Groups of children from across the three countries will also join mentoring programmes that allow them to produce protest videos alongside established filmmakers Charlie Cauchi, Uli Decker, and others. The views and experiences of children are the core consideration of the project and are placed at the forefront of all its processes throughout. Indeed, they never fail to inspire and surprise us, and we are keen to discover what more they have to say!

Malta’s Research Process So Far

The Malta team of researchers, led by Dr Giuliana Fenech, are running the survey across state, church, and private schools in a bid to involve as many children as possible in a representative way. Research Support Officer, Sandy Calleja Portelli, visits schools each week taking the time to explain the scope of the survey and running a literature workshop. During this workshop, the children have the opportunity to explore books that feature social justice stories and young people speaking up on important social issues. ‘Working with children is also about understanding their daily lives and the contexts in which they learn, play, and grow. This project is about pausing adult expectations to really take the time to listen to the children. It’s also about reaching out to those at risk of marginalisation to make sure that they too feel seen and heard’, says Sandy. We have been amazed by the young people’s responses, the depth with which they engage with the literature and their insightful comments. 

Overwhelmingly, students value being part of a study ‘that is not only happening in Malta’, and many tell us that this is the first time they have been asked to reflect on these issues so deeply. As one student said: ‘I feel respected, nobody has ever asked me these things before’. Most importantly, the children are clearly enjoying the sessions, saying ‘it’s a fun way to read a book … doing more than just reading the words’. Another told us, ‘I wasn’t going to take part, but my friends said it’s fun so…’. It’s not just the children who are commenting on the need of projects like this. The educators in all the schools we are visiting have pointed out that the importance of instilling courage and confidence to speak out in their students is amplified in a world of social media and fake news. It is only through collaboration across all stakeholders, and the resourcing of schools, that we ensure that young people feel seen and heard, and truly acknowledged as citizens with agency. 

Learn more

Germany’s Research Process

Coming Soon!

Poland’s Research Process

Coming Soon!

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