Maria Ojala is associate professor (docent) in psychology. She works as a teacher and researcher at the Department of Education, Uppsala University (Sep 2011- Oct 2016). From September 2016 she also has a position as senior lecturer in psychology at Örebro University. Maria’s research concerns how young people think, feel, act, learn, and communicate about global environmental problem, with a specific focus on climate change.
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Maria Ojala has a master’s degree in psychology from Lund University (including courses in political science, sociology, economics, business economics, and statistics) and a PhD in psychology from Örebro University. The title of her doctoral dissertation is: “Hope and Worry: Exploring young people’s values, emotions, and behaviors regarding global environmental problems”. In November 2007 she was a visiting research scholar at Stanford Center on Adolescence, Stanford University. Until 2011 Maria worked as a postdoctoral researcher and teacher in psychology/social psychology at Örebro University. At Örebro University she was affiliated with several multidisciplinary research centers: Man-Technology-Environment, Modeling and Simulation, Centre for Urban and Regional Studies, and Youth & Society.
In the period 2011- 2016 she holds a position as assistant professor (forskarassistent), financed by The Swedish Research Council Formas, at the Department of Education, Uppsala University. From September 2016 she also has a position as senior lecturer/associate professor in psychology at Örebro University.
The main focus of Maria’s current research concerns how young people think, feel, act, and communicate about global environmental problem, with a specific focus on climate change. One important part of her research is how emotions and emotion regulation strategies are a part of the learning process when it comes to education for sustainable development. Another focus is on moral development and social engagement in a global context and which role emotional aspects play in this process. She also is doing research about place identity and the relation to risk perception.
Main research interests are: environmental psychology, moral psychology, political socialization, emotion theories, coping, and education for sustainable development
For the moment Maria is involved in the following research projects and article writings:
Working on an article together with Professor Hans Bengtsson at Lund University about how communication patterns with parents and friends influence young people’s coping with climate change and subsequently environmental engagement. Writing a chapter to The SAGE Encyclopedia of Lifespan Human Development (Editor: Prof. Marc Bornstein) about how people seen from a lifespan perspective relate to climate change and the environment. Has just submitted a paper about climate change communication with students and youths together with Yuliya Lakew, Örebro University, for Oxford Encyclopedia of Climate Change Communication, Oxford University Press (Editor: Associate Prof. Matthew Nisbet). Has submitted an article about hope and climate change education for a special issue in the journal Futures in relation to the conference Anticipation in Trento, Italy. Guest editors are Professor Keri Facer, Bristol University and Associate Professor Sarah Amsler, University of Lincoln.
Maria also is conducting a qualitative interview study with senior high-school teachers involved in climate change education. At the IAPS conference in Lund in June this year Maria, together with Associate Professor Cecilia Bergstad, University of Gothenburg, chaired a symposium about climate change engagement among youths. These activities are part of a project sponsored by The Swedish Research Council Formas where Maria is the PI,
Maria has submitted a chapter in Swedish about how emotions influence learning processes about education for sustainable development. The chapter is going to be published in a book aimed for teacher education (Gleerups) that is edited by Dr. Lena Molin and Professor Carl Reinhold Bråkenhielm, Uppsala University. This activity is part of a research project sponsored by The Swedish Research Council VR in which Dr. Lena Molin is the PI.
In the year of 2016 Maria is going to be responsible for a interview study with parents in a project about “Mobile preschools” financed by The Swedish Foundation for Humanities and Social Sciences (RJ) and The Swedish Research Council VR. The principal investigators for this project are Dr Danielle van der Burgt and Dr Katarina Gustafson.
Current research projects (as PI and participant):
Young people´s communication with parents, friends, and teachers about global environmental problems: Emotions, coping, and self-efficacy. As principal investigator. Financed by the Swedish Research Council Formas.
Mobility, informal learning and citizenship in mobile preschools. As participant. Principal Investigator is Dr. Danielle van der Burgt. Financed by The Swedish Foundation for Humanities and Social Sciences (RJ)
Preconditions of environmental moral learning within education for sustainable development: A multidisciplinary study of young Swedes attitudes, commitments and actions. As participant. Principal investigator is Dr. Lena Molin. Financed by The Swedish Research Council VR
Political socialization and human agency: The Development of Civic Engagement from Adolescence to Young Adulthood” at Youth and Society (YeS), Örebro University. As participant. Principal investigators are professors: Erik Amnå, Håkan Stattin, Mats Ekström. Financed by Riksbankens Jubileumsfond
Recent finished projects:
Mosquitoes as a threat to humans and the community: The role of social norms, place identity and ecocentric values in public risk perception. PI together with Professor Rolf Lidskog, Örebro Universitet. Financed by Länsstyrelsen i Gävleborg
Barns känslor och tankar om de globala miljöproblemen. As principal investigator. Grant from Energimyndigheten.
Learning about global environmental problems: Emotional aspects, emotion regulation, and a sense of purpose among children, adolescents, and young adults. As principal investigator Grant from The National Council for Environmental Research (Formas).
Att hantera det ambivalenta: Unga vuxnas attityder och beteende gällande energieffektivisering i hemmet. As principal investigator. Grant from Gothenburg Energy Research Foundation.
European Journal of Social Psychology; Utbildning och Demokrati; Environmental Education Research; Journal of Applied Social Psychology; Journal of Youth Studies; International Journal of Environmental and Science Education; Environmental Communication: A Journal of Nature and Culture; European Environment; WIREs Climate Change; Journal of Environmental Education; Children, Youth, and Environment; Natural Hazards; Risk Analysis; Journal of Environmental Psychology; Environment and Behavior.
Part of the Editorial Board (review):
International Journal of Environmental and Science Education
Frontiers in Psychology, Environmental psychology
Developmental psychology, quantitative and qualitative methods (Uppsala University)
Environmental psychology (Karolinska Institutet)
Social psychology (Örebro University)
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