Tag Archive | Research

The intersection of contemporary art with ecology, climate change, and environmental activism – Call for papers

Cogent Arts & Humanities welcomes submissions of research articles, critical and curatorial essays to a special collection on “Seeds of fierce engagement: Creative work at the intersection of contemporary art with ecology, climate change, and environmental activism”. Artwork, films, audio pieces, datasets and other multimedia files can be submitted as supplementary material.

Humans are having an unprecedented and devastating impact on the earth. Our way of living is causing disastrous climate change, unsustainable levels of toxicity of the water, air, and soil, and shocking extinction rates of organisms that form the fabric of life. We have made decisions that led us to this current situation and we can make decisions to change course. What we need is fresh vision and collective will. Artists, activists, political and cultural theorists, philosophers, curators, architects, designers and others are doing creative, unconventional, and ambitious work to expand our vision in ways that cultivate positive change.

Although we welcome a variety of approaches, authors and artists are invited to consider the following questions in preparing submissions:

  • What are the possibilities for and limitations of artistic and curatorial models that respond to climate change and ecological crisis, including the massive depopulation of non-human life on the planet known as the sixth extinction?
  • In this time of climate crisis, what role is contemporary art playing in advancing an understanding and valuation of biodiversity, in shaping the relationships between people and the non-human world or in advancing rights for non-human entities?
  • The Global North is largely responsible for the environmental problems at the heart of the climate change crisis. How are artists, activists and theorists working between the Global North and South to generate harmony and collaboration with the goal of environmental justice?
  • How are creative practitioners and cultural theorists constructively troubling definitions of “nature” or “sustainability”?
  • How are creative practitioners engaging ideas of energy futurism in relation to alternative structures of living and locality in production and consumption?
  • How are artists, media producers and other visual culture practitioners catalyzing positive changes toward solving ecological concerns (a “Great Transition”) and against the paralyzing narratives of disaster capitalism?
  • How does environmental activism function within the spheres of art / creative practice?
  • How is the art historical field framing work by artists and artist activists engaged with issues surrounding climate change and political ecology?
  • How does work in aesthetic fields join with activism and Indigenous philosophies to suggest a future of increased environmental justice?
  • How might art recover environmental understandings held by indigenous populations that are lost or nearly lost?
  • What role does art have in interrogating our assumptions about agricultural and industrial revolutions and about pre-modern peoples?
  • What historic creative or scholarly works inform contemporary art as it grapples with climate and ecological crises?

To submit your work, and to view our author guidelines, please visit the journal’s website: https://www.cogentoa.com/journal/arts-and-humanities

The deadline for submissions for this special collection is 15th August 2017.

During the submission process you will be able to confirm that your work is intended for the special collection on art and environment.

We look forward to working with you to bring exciting new scholarship to the widest possible audience.

Zoé Strecker, Senior Editor for Visual and Performing Arts, Transylvania University.

Living and Sustainability: An Environmental Critique of Design and Building Practices, Locally and Globally 9-10 Feb 2017 London

Place: London South Bank University, UK

Conference Dates: 09 – 10 February 2017

 Organised by London South  Bank University and AMPS (Architecture, Media, Politics, Society)

Estimates of the building industry’s contribution to world carbon emissions reach as high as 30% worldwide – with figures on energy consumption in the region of 40%. Given the scale of the industry’s contribution to these figures it is obvious that we cannot ensure a sustainable planet without addressing the practices, materials and legacy of our building industries, our cites and our buildings.

However, key to a sustainable future are also related social questions. The sustainability of communities is one of the most basic components of the quality of life and opportunity.  Badly planned developments can not only lead to the destruction of habitats, they bring unaffordable housing, displaced communities and negative effects on physical health.

Hosted in London, this conference is concerned with the broad range of issues that affect the cities of advanced economies, the metropoles of new economic powerhouses, and the conurbations of the developing world.

Keynote Speaker announced:

Paul Allen. Project Coordinator of Zero Carbon Britain at CAT (Centre for Alternative Technology).

Three associated Publications delegates can publish in:

Academic Journal: Architecture_MPS; UCL Books Series: Housing – Critical Futures; Libri Book Series – Housing the Future

International outlook:

Delegates from multiple continents: Europe, Africa, Asia, Oceania, North and South America

 Abstract Deadline: 30th October 2016. (Extendable to 30th November)


Full call and submissions: http://architecturemps.com/london-2017/

Host University Event Site: http://www.lsbu.ac.uk/conferences/living-sustainability-built-environment


This major international, interdisciplinary event brings together scholars and professionals from various fields and countries to share expertise on issues of environmental and social sustainability. Papers delivered at this London event can be included in one of several book and journal publications.


Contributions are welcome in one of three categories:

  1. Housing; 2. Commercial Buildings; 3. Urban Design and Cities

Within this context the variety of themes it suggests include (but are not limited to):

Sustainable construction; Eco-retrofitting; Resilience; Adapting to climate change; Building sustainability assessment tools; Construction Engineering; Eco-materials and technologies; Life cycle analysis etc.

This event has been developed with London South Bank University to sit within a series of AMPS projects including its international series of events and publications on housing called Housing-Critical Futures.

Stories of Change: Exploring energy and community in the past, present and future, 2014 – 2017

This article has been copied from the Stories of Change website.

March 2014February 2017

Dr Joe Smith has been awarded a £1.47M large grant on the project titled Stories of Change: Exploring energy and community in the past, present and future related to the AHRC’s Connected Communities theme.

About the project

The Stories of Change project aims to help to revive stalled public and political conversations about energy by looking in a fresh way at its past, present and future.

The project draws on history, literature, social and policy research and the arts to encourage a more imaginative approach to current and future energy choices. The project is shaped around the cross-party commitments to decarbonisation that sit at the heart of the UK Government’s Climate Change Act. Research has shown that many people feel disengaged, disempowered or actively hostile to the changes to the UK’s energy system required to meet the targets embedded in the Act. At the same time it shows wide acceptance that actions will be required to reduce demand and cope with future environmental hazards. However new developments and measures to manage or reduce demand can generate dispute. Our project seeks to make space to work through areas of concern and explore elements of a collective vision.
We are inspired by the example of the Mass Observation movement’s stories of change in everyday life in the UK, above all in the 1930s and 1940s. Their work combined a desire to give ordinary people a voice, radical innovations in social research and bold new ideas about media and the arts. It has inspired our three objectives:
  1. To listen to and give a platform to more diverse, often unheard, voices
  2. To mobilise change through research and the arts
  3. To innovate in use of digital media

Stories of Change is organised around three mini research projects, or ‘stories’ and one cross-cutting project ‘Energetic’ that supports these. Story 1: Policy Story: Demanding Times gathers a novel mix of communities of interest around energy policy, and generates new accounts of energy policy and politics past, present and future. Story 2: Industry Story: Future Works is rooted in the English midlands, and seeks to unearth fresh accounts of the long relationship between energy, industrial making and landscape, and explores where it might go next. Story 3: Everyday Story: Life Cycles engages with the role that energy resources have played in shaping communities and everyday life in south Wales.

We are working with stories because they offer a popular and engaging route into thinking about the past and present and imagining possible futures, and also because stories, narratives and narration are concepts that everybody can gather around. History, digital storytelling, fictional narratives, and scenarios of the future all communicate different ideas about the consequences of change for everyday life, and explain different perspectives and attitudes towards change.
We will gather these stories – old and new – into an online publicly accessible collection (our ‘Stories Platform’). We will offer pathways (‘stories’) through the materials, but it will also be easy for users to browse, or make up their own stories of change, by threading material together using digital tools we provide. The academic team will work with partners to produce research outputs, including: academic articles and a book, policy briefs and popular materials. The communities, our creative partners and the research team will also collaborate to produce a mix of creative writing, songs, short films, performances and museum and festival shows.

About the team

The project is being led by Dr Joe Smith of The Open University’s Geography Department. Joe is also leading Story 1 ‘Demanding Times’. Renata Tyszczuk of the University of Sheffield School of Architecture leads Story 2 ‘Future Works’, and Karen Lewis of University of South Wales leads Story 3 ‘Life Cycles’. The team also includes Rosie Day (University of Birmingham, geography), Axel Goodbody (University of Bath, literature), Bradon Smith (University of Bath/The Open University, literature), Julia Udall (University of Sheffield, architecture), Nicola Whyte (University of Exeter, history) Zdenek Zdrahal and team (Open University Knowledge Media Institute) and our core-team arts organisation partners Peter Gingold (Tipping Point) and Yvette Vaughan-Jones (Visiting Arts).


Dr Joe Smith (Joe.Smith@open.ac.uk)
Tel. 01908 654613

Drawing Energy – Book

Drawing Energy describes a drawing-based research project undertaken by the Royal College of Art as part of SusLabNWE (2012-15). The project explored people’s perceptions of energy, by asking them to write, draw or illustrate their thoughts and reactions to the question ‘What does energy look like?’ Over 180 members of the public took part in the process. This site accompanies the book, published in July 2015.

The larger SuslabNWE study saw 11 partners from Germany, the Netherlands, Sweden and the UK come together to understand and investigate energy use in the home. At the Royal College of Art in the UK, we looked at bringing together two ideals and practices around inclusive design and sustainability. Both often have different starting points and deal with different scales. Inclusive design usually focuses on people’s needs and capabilities at the domestic scale, while sustainability embraces complexity and systems thinking, addressing systemic change.

Drawing Energy negotiates a space between the two, bringing together people’s aspirations and perspectives with the context of socio-political mandates and changing infrastructure or technologies. The study also moves beyond the idea of purely functional research (such as numerically measuring energy use) to depict the less tangible area of how people relate to energy in a visual, literal or metaphorical way – it takes us from data ‘performance’ through to human ‘perception’. The work represented in this collection builds on a history of using drawing as a tool for research and as a way to enable people to express their ideas and imagination fully.

We hope you appreciate this publication, whether you see it as a strategy within design research, or simply enjoy it for the rich and varied artwork that represent the public’s views of energy.


The British Academy report Cultures of Community Energy

The British Academy report Cultures of Community Energy looks at the cultural factors that shape the success of community energy projects, and the cultural enablers and barriers to community energy becoming mainstream.

This short brief highlights the findings and recommendations for action relevant to communities interested in setting up energy projects, and the bodies that represent those groups. There is also an accompanying brief for local and national policymakers.

The aim of the project was to identify opportunities that promote, and barriers that inhibit, community energy projects in the UK.

Our interest is in community energy generation and supply projects, characterised by local ownership, participation and benefit sharing.

Barriers to widespread take-up of shared energy generation in the UK may be economic, regulatory, technical, constitutional – or they may be cultural.

The British Academy commissioned a team of researchers at the University of Lancaster to collate a set of international case studies of community energy projects, in order to identify what those cultural factors might be.

The case studies prepared by the research team were selected from three broad groups:

  • Community energy leaders: projects from Denmark and Germany, countries with high uptake of community energy, and supportive regulatory frameworks.
  • The UK: four case studies from the UK – from England, Scotland and Wales.
  • Wild cards (international experience): case studies from Belgium, South Korea, Brazil and Chile, to explore very different cultural and institutional settings.

Three aspects of culture are considered:

  • National institutional and political cultures: including the assumptions governing regulatory structures.
  • Cultures of social enterprise: the extent to which social enterprises (businesses trading for social or environmental purposes) are recognised and valued within the economy and society of a region.
  • Local cultures: the cultural context within which community energy groups operate including the degree of trust and social cohesion.