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Partnerships give a creative perspective on communicating climate change

Centre news

Four groups of Priestley Centre academics are getting the opportunity to approach climate related research with fresh eyes through collaboration with professionals from the field of creative and digital marketing.

The groups of academics, whose work covers a wide range of interdisciplinary research from the arts to social sciences and physical climate change have been matched with an equally wide range of digital collaborators for Leeds Creative Labs: the Climate Edition.

The initiative, which sees the Priestley International Centre for Climate working with the Cultural Institute at the University of Leeds, is designed to allow partners to share ideas and experiences without an agenda, the pressure of a deadline or the need to produce outputs.

Leeds Digital Festival director Stuart Clarke, who has helped the project by sourcing and introducing creative and digital professionals, will be following and supporting the groups as they embark on the collaborative process.


Graham Huggan (Professor of English), Roger Norum (Project Manager, Environmental Humanities ITN), David Higgins, Jeremy Davies and Pippa Marland (School of English):  interests among the environmental humanities group include new conservation initiatives, environmental photography and writing, and the poetics/politics of climate change. They are matched with creative producer Suzie Cross, a digital professional who specialises in strategies to engage audiences through cross disciplinary collaboration.

Suzie Cross, creative producer

Katy Roelich (Associate Professor, Earth and Environment and Civil Engineering): a chemist and civil engineer by training, Katy Roelich is interested in how to engage the public in decision making under uncertainty with the aim of transforming infrastructure systems to make them more sustainable. Katy is matched with creative studio Buttercrumble, run by Chloe and Abigail Baldwin, design enthusiasts who like creating eye-catching imagery, chiming with creative methods Katy is already exploring, including the use of virtual reality.

Katy Roelich (centre) with Chloe and Abigail Baldwin of Buttercrumble (right)

Suraje Dessai (Professor of Climate Change, Sustainability Research Institute), Lea Berrang-Ford (Chair in Climate and Health), Jason Lowe (Chair in Interdisciplinary Climate Research), James Ford  (Chair in Climate Change Adaptation) and Jan Minx (Chair in Climate Change and Public Policy):  the team of Priestley professors specialise in climate change mitigation, adaptation, health and public policy. They are matched with Elisabeth de Bezenac, architect, photographer, visual artist and documentarian.

Cat Scott (Postdoctoral Research Fellow, School of Earth & Environment and Leeds, Ecosystem, Atmosphere & Forest centre) and Scott McLaughlin (Lecturer in Composition and Music Technology): Cat explores interactions between natural parts of the Earth system (particularly trees and forests) and the air, and is also interested in the way that humans can affect these interactions through air pollution and climate change. Her academic partner for Creative Labs, Scott McLaughlin, is a composer interested in analogues between musical forms and natural processes, connecting music and climate through a concern with the formation and transformation of cyclic behaviours.

Cat and Scott are matched with Ruth Parker and Matt Bateman of Flat-e, a design studio that crafts immersive experiences exploring new realms of possibility.

Next steps


The groups were introduced at an informal lunch hosted by the Cultural Institute and the Priestley Centre on 17 May. They will collaborate over a six week period, spending the equivalent of three full days working together. All the groups and their creative partners will meet up again to discuss the process at a showcase event in central Leeds on 28 June – which may or may not include performances!

Image above: Elisabeth de Bezenac

Featured image: Flat-e