Introduction: Placing youth at the forefront of active citizenship for social justice

Mark Brennan, Pat Dolan, Alan Smith

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Historically major social movements seeking change, equality, and social justice have been driven by youth. In more recent decades, youth have been at the forefront of challenging the social, political, and ethical blind spots of their age. Continuing the historical role of youth in facilitating social change, their relevance is particularly important today. Much like past movements, in recent years youth have continued to advance the human condition in existing and new, critical directions. Nonetheless, direct youth engagement in social change is far from encouraged, and has declined, especially in situations that question the prevailing social, political, economic, and other ideologies. Youth are also easily dismissed as being idealistic, ill-informed, and unrealistic in their calls for social justice. In most settings, youth are treated as adults in waiting with little voice or ownership over efforts that impact society. In this special issue, and in direct contrast to the scenario outlined above, we seek to present a series of theoretical, empirical, and policy/practice related articles surrounding youth citizenship and action in the context of advancing social justice. Such engagement places youth at the forefront of both grassroots youth lead change and adult led youth engagement as a mechanism for systemic change.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)205-209
Number of pages5
JournalEducation, Citizenship and Social Justice
Issue number3
Early online date16 Oct 2022
Publication statusPublished online - 16 Oct 2022

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© The Author(s) 2022.


  • civic engagement
  • social justice
  • youth
  • youth action
  • youth voice


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