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Acting On Climate

Acting on climate with young people

Project leads: Rachel Turner-King (Education Studies), Bobby Smith (Theatre Studies)

Project dates: 2021 - Present

Funding: This body of work has been funded via various schemes including, the University City of Culture Partnership Seed Funding Calls (University of Warwick and Coventry University), the University of Warwick Arts Impact Fund, the University of Warwick Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) Impact Acceleration Account ES/T502054/1, the University of Warwick Getting Creative with Sustainability Funding Call and the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC).

Acting on Climate explores the climate crisis with young people across the UK and beyond through creative approaches including performance, film and visual arts.

Rachel Turner-King and Bobby Smith’s research always involves schools and community groups, with public engagement and impact integral to what they do. From a travelling pop-up Story Garden to engaging citizens in localised knowledge of the city’s green spaces and working together with communities, their work aims to reimagine our relationships with uncared for and abandoned spaces using arts, storytelling and placemaking.

Their new project combines learnings from several previous projects. It will aim to work directly with non-academic groups and professional artists to produce high quality participatory artworks, in direct response to the UNESCO Sustainable Development Goals, at a time when the government is investing huge amounts of money into improving education in its climate change strategy.

Rachel and Bobby feel excited about the ways they can draw on multidisciplinary knowledge and expertise from across the University as well as local citizens’ knowledge and expertise and are developing exciting plans going forwards.

The project team has created a wealth of teaching resources for secondary schools, which are all free to access. This includes lesson plans that have been co-created with secondary school teachers and pupils.

Access free teaching resources.

Acting on Climate Symposium: June 3rd 2024 - 09:30 - 4:30pm

Register here: Symposium | Acting On Climate

Acting on Climate Symposium - May 31st Faculty of Arts

One Cup

The latest development in this ongoing portfolio of work will see Coventry school pupils learning about other cultures and connecting on a global level towards our shared sustainability goals.

In September 2023, pupils from UNESCO ASPNet partner schools will convene in Kyoto, Tokyo to discuss peace making initiatives and to learn about the Sustainable Development Goals. The theme of the conference is “One Cup”, relating to the ancient traditions of the Japanese tea ceremony in which one tea bowl is shared by all participants. It is representative of the idea that the world has “one cup” of natural resources that must be shared equally and sustainably between nations.

To engage local school communities, around 600 Coventry children will participate in ceramics workshops, creating their own version of ‘one cup’ and learning about the Japanese tea ceremony and wood-firing kilns, whilst also exploring the Sustainability Development Goals. Drama workshops will also be held at Earlsdon Primary School further exploring the issues, and ten pupils from two Coventry schools will represent the UK at the conference.

The ceramic tea bowls made in Coventry, along with ceramics created at a further workshop during the conference in Kyoto, will be exhibited at the UNESCO Headquarters in Paris in November 2023 and in Coventry in 2024.

Project partners include Coventry City Council, Earlsdon Primary School, University of Oxford, University of Warwick, Sundragons Pottery, Sisters of St Joseph of Peace and UNESCO.

Climate protesting

Acting on Climate

Over the course of 2022, a team of Warwick researchers, external artists, and young people from schools in Coventry have been working collaboratively and creatively in response to the global climate crisis and the UN’s 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

The team worked with local schools and teachers, to better understand the educational and methodological aspects of their collaborative, multi-arts process. The young people (aged around 14 years old) explored their understanding of climate change using playful games, group discussion, embodied performance and they experimented with site-responsive devising using their outdoor environment.

Together, the young people created short live performances that were recorded, edited, and will be shared as part of a documentary and an online teaching resource for schools, youth theatres, climate and environmental activists and educators. Their work has already been presented at an international conference held at Warwick in July 2022 and the digital educational resource was launched at a sharing symposium in partnership with Warwick arts Centre in February 2023.

The diverse network includes locally-based FLUXLink opens in a new window (an education consultancy specialising in STEM public engagement and creative education), digital artist Ashley BrownLink opens in a new window and Luke Newbold, creative director of Lens Change LtdLink opens in a new window. This project extends the impact outcomes of an ongoing participation in a global ethnographic study led by Professor Kathleen Gallagher (University of Toronto), along with research partners based in Canada, Greece, India, Colombia and Taiwan.


The Story Garden

What might community gardening, creative learning and outdoor eco-pedagogies offer children, young people, families and senior citizens?

Dr Rachel Turner-King (Centre for Education Studies, University of Warwick) and Dr Jen Kitchen (Centre for Education Studies, University of Warwick) are exploring creative learning pedagogies that enhance outdoor learning and wellbeing through workshops, activities and talks.

Students in Uganda

With One Breath

Dr Bobby Smith is exploring the local and global challenges of the climate crisis in an exciting collaboration across Coventry (UK) and Kampala (Uganda).

The project is funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council, and involved work with young people, Highly Sprung Performance Company (UK), Rafiki Theatre (Uganda) and the visual artists Becky Warnock and Ashley James Brown. The result is a websiteLink opens in a new window which brings together performance, visual arts and creative writing to engage and inspire change.

Radical Landscapes

How can communities model and deliver local initiatives that improve resilience and sustainability?

This project is underpinned by research from Naomi Waltham-Smith (CIM), Karen Simecek (Philosophy), Jonathan Clarke (GSD), Bobby Smith (Theatre) and Rachel Turner-King (ES), with support from Coventry artists John Bernard and Ashley Brown.

Within the context of the TATE exhibition Radical Landscapes, researchers will work with a group of young people from Coventry aged 14-23, to explore ways in which they can explore issues democratically and express their ideas creatively in response to the climate emergency.

They will work to create a Young People’s Assembly, using innovative forms of aesthetic activism and creativity, and drawing on Warwick’s research to explore solutions to the climate emergency.

The performance and artworks that come out of the Assembly will form part of the final Family Sunday at Warwick Arts Centre, and the final iteration of the project is a presentation by the young people to Coventry City Council to give them their vision for a Green Future and to recommend a course of action.

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