Seminar on Climate Anxiety and Emotional Responses to Sustainability Crises

At this seminar, we learnt more about how to approach climate anxiety and eco-emotions in the educational setting. During the seminar, we discussed practices, available resources, needs, and wishes.

The educational sector has a pivotal role to play in addressing the sustainability crises we are facing by, inter alia, providing students with knowledge, skills, and competence development. As educators, how can we share information about sustainability crises including climate change and discuss the seriousness of these crises, while also providing support to deal with the emotional responses that may arise? How can we support each other in this endeavour and reduce the risk of feeling overwhelmed, emotionally drained, or numb? 

Climate anxiety is a combination of feelings that someone can experience when having concerns about climate change and the state of the planet. Climate anxiety is sometimes used as a concept to capture different emotional responses to sustainability crises in general. In addition to anxiety, being confronted with any sustainability crisis can give rise to different emotional responses, including anger, fear, guilt, and sadness. While emotional responses can cause great suffering, they can also be a productive force and indicate issues of importance, crossed boundaries, unmet needs, or personal values, all of which can provide us a direction to work towards individually and collaboratively.

Content and presenters:

During the seminar, we:

  • Learnt more about how to support students, colleagues, and ourselves in dealing with climate anxiety and other emotional responses to sustainability crises.
  • Talked about emotional responses to sustainability crises including what climate anxiety is and how it differs from other types of anxiety.
  • Learnt about the latest research and practice within climate anxiety/eco-emotions including different approaches to deal with climate anxiety/eco-emotions.
  • Talked about how to provide space for students to deal with their emotional responses and what support educators as well as the university can provide.
  • Learnt about available resources and discussed needs and wishes.

We invited two experts on eco-emotions – Panu P. Pihkala (University of Helsinki) and Marlis Wullenkord (Lund University) – to share their knowledge and experiences. In addition, three Lund University units that are dealing with climate anxiety/eco-emotions in different ways presented their work, experiences, and reflections – the Student Health Centre, the Occupational Health Service, and Medvetenskapens hus.

Visit the blog by speaker Panu P. Pihkala, with many additional resources and reflections –

Speakers and invited guests:

  • Marlis Wullenkord: postdoctoral fellow in Environmental Psychology at Lund University and part of the Vice-Chancellor’s excellence programme for sustainable development.
  • Panu P. Pihkala: adjunct professor of Environmental Theology at the University of Helsinki.
  • Johan Dahl: Lic. Psychologist, Lund University Occupational Health Service.
  • Linda Kuhn: Lic. Psychologist, Lund University Occupational Health Service.
  • Simon Nilsson: Lic. Psychologist, Lund University Student Health Centre .
  • Anette Andersson: Lawyer in International Law and producer at Medvetenskapens hus.
  • Viveka Ramel: Lic. Psychologist, Medvetenskapens Hus, and teaching Climate Psychology at Lund University.


This seminar was primarily intended for programme directors, course coordinators, educators (at all levels including PhD students), and study administrators at Lund University. Others were welcome to register, but priority was given to those from Lund University with existing educational assignments. Spaces were limited. The seminar was held in English.


The seminar took place at Kemicentrum, Hörsal A/Hall A (KC:A).


The seminar was organised by Lund University's Sustainability Forum in collaboration with the Division for Higher Education Development (AHU), and LTH Centre for Engineering Education (CEE).

Sustainability Forum -

Division for Higher Education Development (AHU) -

LTH Centre for Engineering Education -

Further Resources: 

Mosquera, J. & K. M. Jylhä (2022) How to Feel About Climate Change? An Analysis of the Normativity of Climate Emotions, International Journal of Philosophical Studies, 30:3, 357-380, DOI: 10.1080/09672559.2022.2125150

Panu P. Pihkala - Climate education and emotions: (google translate from Finnish to English)

Pihkala P. Eco-Anxiety and Environmental Education. Sustainability. 2020; 12(23):10149.

Vandaele, M., & Stålhammar, S. (2022). “Hope dies, action begins?” The role of hope for proactive sustainability engagement among university students. International Journal of Sustainability in Higher Education, 23(8), 272-289.



Title slide from presentation. Slide.

An introduction to climate anxiety and eco-emotions by Dr. Marlis Wullenkord

Title slide from presentation. Slide.

Handling eco-emotions in educational settings by
Docent Panu Pihkala

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