Thursday, 7 May 2015

Workshop II - a short summary.

On Sunday we met for our second workshop to discuss climate change communication with others artists, scientists and science communicators involved in the field. Although we started of focusing on climate change, we quickly realised that the themes we discussed related to human impacts on our planet in general, touching on plastic pollution, ocean acidification and rainforest degradation to name only a few.

Just like our first workshop in January, this weekend turned out to be rather stormy and rainy, as our participants made it to the University of Glasgow’s Zoology museum. Over coffee, tea, snacks and fruit we discussed personal experiences in environmental and climate change communication.

Deborah and Ian, both PaperMakers artists, had joined us from Ireland to discuss their ideas, while early career researcher Jen joined us on a surprisingly quick Skype connection from Bristol. We were also joined by two undergraduate students, both of which had to contribute valuable discussion points based on their experiences in environmental research and science communication in particular.

Dave Borthwick, Programme director of the Glasgow University MLitt in Environment, Culture and Communication, shared  the challenges of working at the interface of environmental topics rooted mostly in the physical sciences, and the world of the arts and social sciences. We discussed the challenges associated with funding interdisciplinary projects and working in collaborations, networking and running events and it was reassuring to learn that all of our participants had to deal with similar challenges as we have during the project.

We were joined by Rob Duck, Dean of the School of Environment at Dundee working on sedimentation in coastal systems and author of the book ‘This Shrinking Land: Climate Change and Britain's Coasts’. He discussed his work with us, and the challenges in communicating research to the public. The language we are using as scientists does not work particularly well in the mainstream media, something that Ian and his scientist Valentina are addressing as part of their PaperMakers artwork.
Rob has been previously involved in the Between Tides - Riddles riddles of Tentsmuir Project, which brought art and science together, and is something we hope to use as a framework for the coastal walk we have planned in summer.

We also had Kate Foster on board, who gave us a lot of thought material by sharing her own environmental art practice, which were valuable insights in our current projects. She reminded us that its time for PaperMakers project to spend a little less talking and a little more time creating...

Not that we’ve been idle. Deborah and her scientist David have been working hard on the Lemon Challenge, a small project we'd like to go viral. We discussed the Lemon Challenge at length with the participants, and even tricked a few into allowing themselves to be filmed – wait and see….


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