Young Activists in Muddy Boots: Fältbiologerna and the Ecological Turn, 1959–1974

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The Swedish youth organization Fältbiologerna was founded in 1947 with the mission to inspire learning about nature through outdoor activities. Since then, the members have stayed true to their slogan ‘keep your boots muddy’ through engaging in bird watching and forest excursions; however, in the late 1960s and early 1970s – a period that environmental historians refer to as the ‘ecological turn’ – the organization’s activities were extended to also include political activism. Fältbiologerna increasingly evolved into a fertile terrain for young environmentalists. In this article, we explore how this Swedish branch of modern environmental youth activism came about. Based on a close reading of the members’ journal, Fältbiologen, between 1959 and 1974, we identify four key characteristics that were communicated in the journal during the years of study: adventurous, knowledgeable, influential, and radical. We demonstrate that Fältbiologerna took an increasingly radical position and began to engage in environmental debates and actions, while still holding on to ideals of learning through spending time in nature. Participation in these different activities shaped the young members into environmentalists.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)301-323
Number of pages23
JournalScandinavian Journal of History
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2018 Jun 1

Subject classification (UKÄ)

  • History


  • environmental history
  • ecological turn
  • youth activism
  • environmentalism
  • Sweden


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