Graphic novels and artwork from the University of Leeds’ archives were used to inspire creative visions of the future in a workshop with teens for the Being Human humanities festival.
Thirty-three students aged 16-18 from schools in Bradford and Leeds attended the workshop at the Treasures of the Brotherton for an event that focussed on what a future living with climate change might look like. The event, which was organised and run by James Mckay of the Doctoral Training Centre for Low Carbon Technologies in the Faculty of Engineering with the Priestley International Centre for Climate, used the artwork and books from the gallery’s collection – which included works by H G Wells, Ursula Le Guin and even Sir Thomas More – to show how previous generations have envisaged the future.
The students also did exercises to test their understanding of energy use and spoke to first year PhD researchers working on diverse projects from generating biofuels from algae and biomass to producing cleaner fuels and being involved in climate governance.
At the end of the event, they were all given a free copy of a new graphic novel, A Dream of a Low Carbon Future, edited by James Mckay and Benjamin Dickson.
Students also heard from University of Leeds researchers Harriet Thew, Pip Roddis and Thuli Montana, who have just returned from the UNFCCC conference COP22 in Marrakech, and got a chance to pass on their own views about climate change directly to the climate conference.
“The students were really engaged, and I hope they found it interesting to consider such an all-encompassing topic,” said James Mckay.
Feedback from the participants was positive, with one student saying, “Today’s workshop has shown me that I can be optimistic and that it’s not all doom and gloom – that there is some hope for humanity.”