Cultural Spaces of Climate Network

Lead Research Organisation: University of Nottingham
Department Name: Sch of Geography

Abstract

Contemporary debates over the threat of future climate change, coupled with the fixation on the apparent acceleration in anthropogenic global warming, and the general dominance of climatic modelling in climate change studies, have obscured the distinctive meaning that climate holds, and has held in the past, for different people in different places. Although there is a consensus that the global climate is changing, that human activities are exacerbating natural climatic variability, and that climate change will pose new and significant challenges for global society at large, the precise impacts for different social, economic and ecological systems are less clearly understood. It is essential to try to obtain a better understanding of how different groups of people in different contextual settings and at different points in time have conceptualised climate and have responded to its fluctuations.

There have, therefore, been calls for a re-examination of climate change that i.) challenges the increasingly global and scientific perspective on climate and ii.) addresses the idea of climate and its culturally and spatially variable dimensions. Recent climate scholarship has, for example, highlighted a need to understand how different groups of people in different spatial and temporal contexts conceptualise climate as an idea. Efforts are thus now being made to explore how 'ordinary people' understand, talk or write about climate and make sense of it and to investigate climate as a function of personal memory, experience and intergenerational transfer of 'climate knowledge', all of which demands a more intimate spatial resolution than global perspectives afford.

The purpose of the proposed network is to draw together academic researchers from within and beyond the arts and humanities, representatives from professional and learned societies including the Royal Geographical Society with the Institute of British Geographers (RGS-IBG) and the Royal Meteorological Society (RMetS) and various popular climate and weather related interest groups, including the Climatological Observers Link (COL), The Tornado and Storm Research Organisation (TORRO) and the Cloud Appreciation Society (CAS), to investigate possible approaches to encourage a more culturally driven and local-scale consideration of climate as an idea from both an historical and contemporary perspective.

Three workshops are proposed involving all these stakeholder groups. These will address a series of distinctive themes: i.) the potential contribution that arts and humanities approaches can make to contemporary climate and climate change discourses; ii.) the value of adopting an historical perspective in the investigation of the interrelationships between people, place and climate and of bringing historical materials into wider public and professional circulation to illustrate their use in developing narratives of climates past and present and iii.) the way in which the ordinary citizen, and amateur groups in particular, have in the past and could in the future usefully contribute to the production and circulation of climate knowledge, and to establish how they might become more involved as intermediaries between the public, academic and professional domains.




Planned Impact

The immediate beneficiaries will be those actively involved and represented at the network meetings, including academic researchers, drawn from both within and beyond the arts and humanities disciplines, representatives of professional and learned societies, and people drawn from a wide range of public interest groups, organisations and societies with interests in climate and the weather.

Established links with RMetS, the RGS-IBG and the Chilterns Observatory Trust, will lead to a range of impacts. The original and innovative use that the network members can make of the resources and facilities available within these different groups will be of mutual benefit to the different communities involved, serving to provide access, for example, to archival sources, historical information and material artefacts, while at the same time publicising the potential for this material to be used and circulated beyond the purely academic arena. There will also be wider impacts beyond the immediate network. Representatives of all the communities participating in the network workshops will be encouraged to contribute to outputs in the form of papers for an edited monograph, while academic papers for peer reviewed journals will also be encouraged. The RGS-IBG and RMetS can act as fora for public outreach through their in house popular oriented magazines, The Geographical Magazine and Weather respectively, which can be used as media through which to publicise the activities of the network and might also carry articles resulting from the network meetings and features written by workshop participants. In addition, the outputs of the network will be publicised via an online RGS-IBG exhibition showcasing presentations and podcasts from the workshops. In addition, there will be opportunities for further public engagement through the RGS-IBG regional and Monday night lecture series and a possible feature in its linked website 'Geography in the News'.

Both Principle and Co-Applicant have also developed strong links with a range of amateur and enthusiast climatological societies as a result of a British Academy funded project investigating the role of the amateur in the production of contemporary climate knowledge. These groups include the Climatological Observers Link (COL), the Tornado and Storm Research Organisation (TORRO), and the Cloud Appreciation Society (CAS). Founded in 1970 and comprising over 400 members, COL describes itself as the most significant network for climate enthusiasts and amateur meteorologists in the UK, and aims to enable amateur observers to exchange information about the weather. TORRO, established in 1974, is a privately supported research body composed of c.400 amateur (and some professional) meteorologists and observers from the UK and overseas. Its activities focus on severe weather events. CAS represents an organization promoting an interest in clouds, with news, on line discussion forums, photograph gallery and bulletin. It is anticipated that further public dissemination and engagement may result from publicity about the network and articles resulting from it in the monthly COL bulletin and TORRO's key publication, The International Journal of Meteorology, the TORRO newsletter and website, and the CAS web based news forum.

There will also be benefits to other groups beyond the immediate network, including school groups. Among the new initiatives being established between the RMetS, the RGS-IBG and the British Council, for example, is 'Climate4Classrooms', an initiative which provides free teaching resources on climate and climate change for 11-18 year olds both nationally and internationally (see http://www.climate4classrooms.org/). It is anticipated that lectures, podcasts, documents and reports resulting from the network workshops will be made available for this initiative and thus for active use in seconda
 
Description Three workshops were held throughout the course of a year. Each day-long workshop involved academic and non-academic participants and keynote speakers. The first event on "Re-culturing Climate" was held at the University of Nottingham (December 3rd 2010). The keynote speaker, James Roger Fleming opened the event with a presentation on the history of weather and climate control in the US. Other presentations provided insight into how the media, art, film and literature can be used to explore representations (and in some cases manipulation) of climate and climate change debates. "Historicising Climate" was held at the Royal Geographical Society-with the Institute of British Geographers, Kensington Gore (March 16th 2011) and addressed how historical perspectives can be used as a lens through which to view into the changing nature of the relationship between climate and people and different cultural attitudes to climate over time. Jan Golinski's keynote considered how a study of the social dimension of knowledge in history can assist current attempts to mediate between scientific and popular ideas about the environment. Other papers illustrated the value of historical materials in climate research, their use in helping to understand the formation, and implications, of different narratives of climate past and present and also highlighted the importance of bringing such materials into wider public and professional circulation. Presentations demonstrated how the cultural framings of climate (including legal, medical, economic as well as scientific framings) have been, and are, dynamic over a wide range of temporal and spatial scales. The third and final workshop, "Popularising Climate", was held at The Royal Meteorological Society, Reading on June 25th 2011. This event focused on the involvement of amateur/ enthusiast communities and sought to establish how they might become more engaged as intermediaries between the public, academic and professional domains. Organisations participating in this event included the Cloud Appreciation Society (its director Gavin Pretor Pinney is delivering the keynote), the Climatological Observers Link and the Tornado and Storm Research Organisation as well as academics working on environmental enthusiasm, volunteering and amateurisation. Among the themes addressed at this workshop included those focused on popular understanding of climate and climate change, dovetailing with LWEC objectives aimed at improving the way in which communities in the UK with different cultural backgrounds and belief systems understand - and can live- with climate change.

Highlights & achievements of the research /important findings

1.) Workshops have showcased the work of various students and RAs, and the network has fostered the formation of a sub-network of early career researchers working on climate from an arts and humanities (and social science) perspective. The inaugural meeting of this group was held on June 8th at the University of Nottingham and the first workshop of the early career network was held at the RGS-IBG on 6th October 2011 with input from 20 young researchers as well as Mike Hulme and other network members,

2.) Plans are underway for an edited volume of selected papers from each of the workshops (book proposal being drawn up for submission to Palgrave).

3.) A follow up project linking this network and the Anticipatory Histories REC network (PI Simon Naylor) has also been developed and has received funding from the AHRC.
Exploitation Route Three workshops were held throughout the course of a year. Each day-long workshop involved academic and non-academic participants and keynote speakers. The first event on "Re-culturing Climate" was held at the University of Nottingham (December 3rd 2010). The keynote speaker, James Roger Fleming opened the event with a presentation on the history of weather and climate control in the US. Other presentations provided insight into how the media, art, film and literature can be used to explore representations (and in some cases manipulation) of climate and climate change debates. "Historicising Climate" was held at the Royal Geographical Society-with the Institute of British Geographers, Kensington Gore (March 16th 2011) and addressed how historical perspectives can be used as a lens through which to view into the changing nature of the relationship between climate and people and different cultural attitudes to climate over time. Jan Golinski's keynote considered how a study of the social dimension of knowledge in history can assist current attempts to mediate between scientific and popular ideas about the environment. Other papers illustrated the value of historical materials in climate research, their use in helping to understand the formation, and implications, of different narratives of climate past and present and also highlighted the importance of bringing such materials into wider public and professional circulation. Presentations demonstrated how the cultural framings of climate (including legal, medical, economic as well as scientific framings) have been, and are, dynamic over a wide range of temporal and spatial scales. The third and final workshop, "Popularising Climate", was held at The Royal Meteorological Society, Reading on June 25th 2011. This event focused on the involvement of amateur/ enthusiast communities and sought to establish how they might become more engaged as intermediaries between the public, academic and professional domains. Organisations participating in this event included the Cloud Appreciation Society (its director Gavin Pretor Pinney is delivering the keynote), the Climatological Observers Link and the Tornado and Storm Research Organisation as well as academics working on environmental enthusiasm, volunteering and amateurisation. Among the themes addressed at this workshop included those focused on popular understanding of climate and climate change, dovetailing with LWEC objectives aimed at improving the way in which communities in the UK with different cultural backgrounds and belief systems understand - and can live- with climate change.

Highlights & achievements of the research /important findings

1.) Workshops have showcased the work of various students and RAs, and the network has fostered the formation of a sub-network of early career researchers working on climate from an arts and humanities (and social science) perspective. The inaugural meeting of this group was held on June 8th at the University of Nottingham and the first workshop of the early career network was held at the RGS-IBG on 6th October 2011 with input from 20 young researchers as well as Mike Hulme and other network members,

2.) Plans are underway for an edited volume of selected papers from each of the workshops (book proposal being drawn up for submission to Palgrave).

3.) A follow up project linking this network and the Anticipatory Histories REC network (PI Simon Naylor) has also been developed and has received funding from the AHRC.
Sectors Environment

 
Description The Cultural Spaces of Climate network reaulted in engagement with non academic partner organisations such as the Climatological Observers Link (COL) and the Tornado an Storm Research Organisation (TORRO). Both organisations have attended workshops as part of this network grant and claimed to have benefitted from attendance in terms of networking oppotunities and follow up public engagememt opportunities.
First Year Of Impact 2011
Sector Environment,Leisure Activities, including Sports, Recreation and Tourism
Impact Types Cultural,Societal

 
Description AHRC Networking
Amount £27,561 (GBP)
Funding ID AH/N006062/1 
Organisation Arts & Humanities Research Council (AHRC) 
Sector Public
Country United Kingdom
Start 07/2016 
End 06/2018
 
Description Collaboration with Royal Geographical Society with the INstitute of British Geographers 
Organisation Royal Geographical Society
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Learned Society 
PI Contribution We are providing material which will be used for the preparation of educational resources for Geography teaching in Schools
Collaborator Contribution They are helping to identify the most appropriate material and case study material for use in educational resources
Impact This is still in development
Start Year 2013
 
Description Collaboration/ Partnership 
Organisation Royal Geographical Society
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Learned Society 
PI Contribution Collaboration with the Royal Geographical Society on project, 'Cultural Spaces of Climate' and 'Weather walks and weather talks' project.
Collaborator Contribution We worked collaboratively with the RGS_IBG on the development of a guided audio walk. The RGS produced the walk for us as part of their Discovering Britain initiative. http://www.discoveringbritain.org/
Impact The project resulted in the development of a 'weather walk' for the RGS-IBG's Discovering Britain initiative, which aims to assist in raising awareness among the general public of the landscapes ( and their histories) of the UK. Our walk was focused on the landscape and climate history of Great Dun Fell, Cumbria
Start Year 2011
 
Description Partnership/ Collaboration 
Organisation Royal Meteorological Society
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Learned Society 
PI Contribution Partnership with Royal Meteorological Society- a learned and professional Society on the Cultural Spaces of Climate project and the follow up project, Weatherwalks, weather talks..'
Start Year 2010
 
Description Royal Meteorological Society 
Organisation Royal Meteorological Society
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Learned Society 
PI Contribution We worked with the Royal Meteorological Society on the production of the Weather Memory Bank which allows people to view and respond to interviews about popular perceptions of weather and climate and climate change
Collaborator Contribution the Royal Meteorological Society facilitated the working relationship with the film company we used to produce the Weather Memory Bank and allowed us to showcase the work at the Royal Meteorological Society's inaugural Weather, Arts and Musical Festival, Reading 2012. The Weather Memory Bank is also hosted on the Royal Meteorological Society's website
Impact Endfield, G.H and Naylor, S. (2015) Climate and cultural heritage: an experiment with the 'Weather Memory Bank'. In: Harvey, D. and Perry, J. (eds.) The Future of Heritage as Climates Change: Loss, Adaptation and Creativity. Series: Key issues in cultural heritage. Routledge: 62-77.
Start Year 2012