Group of smiling young people with masks

COVID-19 - Youth As Researchers Initiative

The Youth As Researchers (YAR) global initiative on COVID-19 connects and engages with young people to conduct research on the impacts of COVID-19 on young people and the responses young people have implemented to tackle these.

UNESCO and the UNESCO Chairs at the National University of Ireland Galway and Penn State University lead a consortium of youth-led or youth-related actors to support the research through training, mentoring and coordination.

COVID-19 - Youth As Researchers Initiative - YAR

How did YAR start

The idea for Youth as Researchers (YAR) first evolved from work being done on empathy in education, through the realization that researchers who can connect with their research topic can bring an added dimension and value to conducting research. When looking at research topics that affect young people, young researchers are well-placed to make this connection and gain an insightful understanding of young people’s experiences and actions.

The program has been designed to give young people the skills they need to conduct credible research based on sound methods and ethical practices. YAR supports young people through training, mentoring and giving advice during the research process to empower them to choose the research topics they want to investigate, design the research and then collect and analyze data. The researchers then use their research to deliver key messages.

YAR High-Level Policy Conference - Impact of COVID-19 on Youth

Research Teams

Young people aged 18-35 have formed research teams that answer these and other questions. This research is designed by young people, conducted by young people and about young people. The youth researchers will collaborate with a group of like-minded young people, receive training and be supported by a team coordinator to assist with the research.


Five themes define the overall scope of investigations:

  • well-being,
  • learning,
  • use of technology,
  • human rights and
  • youth taking action.

A global survey was conducted to determine, within this context, the key issues of concern for young people. Each research team have utilized this information to select their topic, and from there design their research.

Global Policy Brief

Youth-led research is invaluable to complete scientific research and render the production of knowledge more inclusive and representative of the perspectives, viewpoints and experiences of youth, in all their diversity. It is also a novel approach to informing policy-making and enabling the design and implementation of evidence-based policies and legislation affecting youth.

Providing an overview of the YAR initiative, this publication contains a summary of its key findings and recommendations, globally and thematically, aimed to inform youth-focused policy processes in the framework of post-COVID recovery.

COVID-19 - Youth As Researchers Initiative - Young Woman