Research Study with the University of Kansas – June 2021

In September of 2020, The Resilient Activist teamed up with clinical psychologist Barbara Gilbert, Ph.D., University of Kansas psychology professor Glenn Adams, and social psychology Ph.D. student Trevor Lies to design and run a series of focus groups centered on community conversation about the climate crisis.

Research Study Results

The results of this study can be found at this link: Focus Group Investigation of Climate Change Anxiety Among Environmental Activists” University of Kansas study 2022. Preliminary information is found below in the Focus Groups section.

The True Power for Climate Recovery and Resilience Team

Trevor Lies, Principal Investigator,                             

Glenn Adams, Faculty Supervisor,

Department of Psychology, Fraser Hall, University of Kansas, Lawrence, KS 66045             

Climate of Community Recordings

Over the previous few months, The Resilient Activist had been holding monthly Climate of Community meetings to formulate paths to community resilience and healing. Enjoy these recordings of those sessions.

Power of Respect for Climate Resilience and Recovery

Introduction to the True Power Paradigm: Presented by Dr. Barbara Gilbert

Sarah Jaquette Ray on Climate Justice and Environmental Racism

March 28, 2021 with Sarah Jaquette Ray, author of “A Field Guide to Climate Anxiety: How to Keep Your Cool on a Warming Planet.”

Feb. 28, 2021 with Dr. Daniel Wildcat, author of “Red Alert! Saving the Planet with Indigenous Wisdom.”

True Power Paradigm

The process of how we go about developing a resilient community is integral in effectively responding to the climate crisis.

We are working to create a climate of Community

so the community can work effectively for the Climate.

Climate of Community is working to help our community, based on five concepts:

  1. We bear the burden of difficult things better as a bonded community than we can ever do as individuals;
  2. Sharing our stories authentically is part of the bonding and healing process that keeps us strong and effective;
  3. Finding our personal power and linking that with community power is the most effective we can be in addressing broad-scale difficulties;
  4. There are many paths to community bonding and healing, arising from diverse traditions and methods, and the more diverse our approaches the stronger we will be and remain.
  5. True Power is not “power over” others but “power to” advocate for and serve what matters to us.

Focus Groups

During September 2020, we hosted 14 90-minute focus group sessions with two to four participants in each discussion group to learn what types of programming could support those who are concerned about climate change and ecological catastrophe.

Research results through the Department of Psychology at the University of Kansas can be found at Focus Group Investigation of Climate Change Anxiety Among Environmental Activists” University of Kansas study 2022.

Demographic results include:

14 focus group sessions with 46 participants from 5 countries; 44 demographic surveys returned

  • Women: 79.5% (35); Men: 20.5% (9)
  • Religious: 36.4% (16); Non-religious: 59.1% (26)**
  • Activist Identification: Mean = 6.34 (scale from 1 – 7)
  • Racial background: 90.9% (40) White, 9.1% (4) people of color (South Asian/Indian, African, Black, Asian)
  • Age: Mean = 44.66, Range = 25 -78
  • Political orientation: Mean = 2.23 (scale from -3[Strongly Conservative] to 3[Strongly Liberal])

The Resilient Activist is deeply grateful to Glenn Adams, Trevor Lies, and others from KU’s Department of Psychology for their time, energy, and attention to detail for this first phase of the study. It’s important work.


Comments during the focus group sessions were heartfelt and thoughtful and included:

“I work in a field where I can’t talk freely about what I think and feel about the environment, and I’m excited to have a space to do so.”

“I’m interested in discussing resiliency and trying to keep up my energy while advocating.”

“It can be discouraging to be involved in environmental groups.”

“I worry if my actions are enough to make a difference with the changes happening in the environmental world.”

“Seeking out articles on the internet to make myself feel better about the environment actually increased my eco-anxiety because it was hard to find positive news about the environment.”

Here’s the original invitation for the focus group study:

In February 2020, before we experienced public health measures in response to COVID-19, a group called True Power for Climate Recovery (TPCRR) met in Lawrence, KS at Haskell Indian Nations University to discuss concerns about climate change and to mobilize effective strategies to address “climate anxiety” and “eco-grief”.

This Lawrence group was the brainchild of Barbara Gilbert, Ph.D. , a clinical psychologist currently in private practice in Lawrence, Kansas. In her work, Barbara addresses larger-scale barriers to healthy functioning of the whole community.  She offers a psychology-based path to True Power for Climate Resilience and Recovery. Connect with Dr. Gilbert at this link.

At the same time, in 2019 and 2020, The Resilient Activist had been hosting its monthly Climate Conversations and Ecological Angst programs for a similar purpose.

These two groups have joined together, along with others, and to design focus group discussions that were held via Zoom in a small-group setting to follow-up on these programs.

The focus groups provide information for us to create programming that supports people who are concerned about climate change and ecological catastrophe to share their thoughts, to exchange ideas for addressing those concerns, to build connections to like-minded people in the community, and to continue this resilience and recovery work. 

The structure of these focus group discussions was informal.  A facilitator posed a few questions to start the discussion and jumped in when appropriate to make sure that all participants had an opportunity to contribute. 

We think that your comments will be an important resource that can benefit all of us as we help each other cope with the massive challenges of the ecological crisis. For this reason, Glenn Adams and Trevor Lies from the Department of Psychology at the University of Kansas have obtained permission from the KU Human Research Protection Program to treat the discussion as a research study. This will enable us to report and share insights from the discussion to a broader audience, while still honoring your privacy and other rights. For this reason, we ask that you read and retain the information statement before deciding whether or not to participate in a discussion group.

Those who agreed to join a discussion registered and were sent meeting information and the Zoom link.

Please do not hesitate to contact us if you have any questions or concerns. Contact information is at the bottom of the Information Statement.