Imagining Canada’s Future

Imagining Canada’s Future aimed to identify knowledge about the ways in which energy production and consumption may affect children and youth, and recommendations for future research and action.


This project—Imagining Canada’s Future: A knowledge synthesis of research on children, youth & energy systems—examined existing social science literature related to the biological, psychological and social (biopsychosocial) and economic impacts of energy resource activities on children and youth across a range of systems (such as oil, natural gas, coal, nuclear, wind, and solar). The goal was to better identify and understand the state of social science knowledge about the ways in which energy production and consumption may impact children and youth, and point to recommendations for future research and action.


A critical interpretative synthesis of the literature was employed, using literature drawn from two leading social science databases – Ebsco and Proquest. Both databases met the dual requirements of capacity for conducting a systematic search (search functionality) and the salience to a social science inquiry. An iterative search process yielded 924 articles, which after screening the titles and abstracts was reduced to 211 articles. These were reviewed in terms of the impacts of specific energy system activities on children and youth.The synthesis critically analyzed and organized the research adopting a social-ecological lens to explore how energy production and consumption impacts the lives of children and youth. links, and gaps, across social/ human health/ geographic/ psychological/ cultural spiritual/ political/economic etc. topic areas.


This project was led by Dr. Cox and involved other members of the RbD team, namely Dr. Leila Scannell and Dr. Sarah Fletcher, Dr. Michael Ungar (Resilience Research Center, Dalhousie University) and RbD research assistants (Dr. Pam Irwin, Trevor Dixon-Bennett, Tess Raithby). The project was funded through a Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council Knowledge Synthesis grant funding initiative.


In addition to illuminating trends in existing social science research on energy production and consumption and youth, the synthesis examined research on strategies for engaging and empowering children and youth as leaders, innovators, and changemakers in the global energy transition to low-carbon energy systems. The report included concrete recommendations for policy makers and practitioners, as well as outlining potential future research priorities. The research resulted in a detailed report, peer-reviewed articles, lay summaries, and digital narratives that, taken together, promoted dialogue among youth, government, industry, and other stakeholders.