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Culture and Climate Change: experiments in engagement and impact

Wednesday 15 March 2017, 16.15-17.30
Clothworkers North Building (LT G12)
Prof Joe Smith (Open University) and Dr Renata Tyszczuk (University of Sheffield)
School of Media and Communication Research Seminar


Climate change is urgent and important, but also, for many, boring, difficult and confusing. What kinds of stories, artworks and other interventions are being created in response to ‘the greatest challenge facing humanity’ — a challenge that is also apparently forgettable? Joe Smith (Professor of Environment and Society, the Open University) and Renata Tyszczuk (Senior Lecturer in Architecture, University of Sheffield) reflect on their experimental and interdisciplinary projects at the intersection of research, policy and cultural work on climate change. Their recent joint projects include the Interdependence Day project (2005-2011, with the new economics foundation) and the current multi-partner AHRC Stories of Change project on past, present and future energy transitions. They will also outline progress with the Culture and Climate Change: Scenarios project, including a body of innovative networked artists residencies. They will argue for the importance of cultural work on climate change, but caution against any expectation that it provides any communications ‘silver bullets’.


Joe Smith is Professor of Environment and Society in The Open University’s Geography Department. He writes mostly about environmental communication, history, policy and politics. Joe has designed and facilitated numerous seminars for environment specialists and senior media decision-makers since the mid 1990s, and advised on over 30 hours of BBC broadcasting. He leads two AHRC funded projects: Earth in Vision  (50 years of environment in broadcasting) and  Stories of Change (beta site) (opening up the public conversation about energy transitions) and co-leads the Mediating Change group which supports and reflects upon new cultural work on climate change. He is also an active Director of Smith of Derby Ltd., a 160-year-old public clock making company.

Dr. Renata Tyszczuk is Senior Lecturer in Architecture at the University of Sheffield. Her research in the history and philosophy of architecture, and related art practice, explores questions concerning global environmental change and provisionality. Her teaching in recent years has centred on running MA level design studios related to her research interests. In 2013 she was awarded a British Academy Mid-Career Fellowship which has resulted in the monograph Provisional Cities: Cautionary tales for the anthropocene (Routledge, 2017). She is co-editor of Atlas: Geography, Architecture and Change in an Interdependent World (Black Dog, 2011) and the Culture and Climate Change series. She leads the Mediating Change group’s Culture and Climate Change: Scenarios work, including the innovative networked artists residencies programme.