UCL News


Student reviews – Teaching and Leading Generation Z

4 February 2020

Hannah Buttle, UCL Student Journalist – and fellow member of Generation Z – reviews this Lunch Hour Lecture on the interests and struggles of her generation.

Generation Z

Check if you agree with any of the following:

  • I’m a compassionate person.
  • My parents are my number one role model.
  • Politicians are dishonest, selfish, and argumentative.
  • One day, I want to be a YouTuber.

If you checked 'yes’ to all of the above, you might be part of Generation Z. Generation Z, or Gen Z for short, includes everyone born between the years 1996–2015. Much to my relief, my December birthday squeezes me just into this age bracket, so I am, it pleases me to say, qualified to talk about ‘us’.

Gen Z is the largest cohort in the world, with two billion of us, according to Dr. Zachary Walker of the Institute of Education. Gen Z-ers like Malala Yousafzi and Greta Thunberg have already started to leave their mark on the world. What will this next generation look like?

Pretty stressed out, probably. Many Gen Z-ers lived through 9/11, the wars in Iraq and Syria, the financial crisis, and climate catastrophe, all before they turned 18. As Dr. Walker notes, though each generation has lived through its own bad times, they’ve never had access to every detail of it the way Gen Z does.

On the whole, though, Gen Z gives reasons to hope. Gen Z value truth, community, and humility. Though they’re less keen on politicians, they care deeply about social justice, and look for action rather than empty press releases. Most adorably, 70 per cent cite their parents as their number one role models.

The amount of hopes pinned upon Gen Z are, at times, exhausting. Dr. Walker ends his talk by showing us some Gen Z-ers we should all look up to: Boyat Slat, who began working on taking plastic out of the ocean aged 16, Eden Full who, in high school, invented a cheap way of rotating solar panels to align with the sun, and Emma Yang, who, aged just 12, developed an app to help Alzheimer’s sufferers like her grandmother.

As the presentation drew to a close, I was reminded that, only that morning, I'd plugged my laptop charger into a plug socket, then tried to put the cable into my ear having mistaken it for a headphone. If Gen Z is going to change the world, I hope no one expects all of us to pitch in.

Hannah Buttle