Pathways to understanding the changing climate: time and place in cultural learning about the environment
A three year project (2013–2016) funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC)
The project is a collaboration between the Division of Social Anthropology and the Faculty of Education.
The aim of this project, which emerges from the AHRC funded Climate Histories network (2010-11), is to explore the ways
in which people perceive and narrate environmental change, with a particular focus on the intergenerational exchange of
this knowledge and the role of schools in allowing children to creatively reflect on their environmental context including both
natural features and spirits and legends of the place. Recognising that, especially in the context of the changing climate,
transformations cannot be understood on a purely local level, but need to be grasped in the context of global processes, we
will develop cross-cultural links to connect the local experience of environmental change in East Anglia with the experience
of change elsewhere in the world, particularly Mongolia and the Arctic.
Desire for the Wild – Wild Desires?
Re-wilding in a world of social, environmental and climate change
At Wicken Fen and Pembroke College, Cambridge, 18-19 April 2013
List of Attendees
This event was run by the AHRC-funded networks ‘The places we speak from and the publics we speak to’, and ‘Climate Histories’; and the National Trust.
Find us at
http://www.environmentalhistories.net/ & http://climatehistories.innerasiaresearch.org/
We are grateful for the support of the Arts and Humanities Research Council; the University of Cambridge HEIF 5 fund; the National Trust; and Pembroke College, Cambridge.
For more information on Wicken Fen see: http://www.wicken.org.uk/introduction.htm and http://www.nationaltrust.org.uk/wicken-fen/
The University of Cambridge Programme for Sustainability Leadership have just published the latest issue of their e-publication The Edge, featuring Richard Calland, Associate Professor of Public Law at the University of Cape Town. On their website you can find a video in which he introduces his interesting article giving a perspective on the recent COP 17 (meeting of the parties of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change) at Durban, South Africa.
Calland talks about “Climate Negotiations at the Edge: Good COP, Bad COP”, and the importance of the “thick outer belt of innovation, networking, and dialogue” around the fringe of the COP: “If Plan A is a neat little international treaty that solves everything, then very simply, we have to turn to Plan B”.
Wednesday 19 October saw the second meeting of the Climate Histories Interdisciplinary Discussion Group at CRASSH. The theme of our discussion was “Climate Change and the History of Comfort and Wellbeing“, and we had a nice balance of tea and cake, engaging presentations, questions, and energetic discussion.
Our first speaker was Nell Crowden, who read History of Medicine (MA) at University College London, and Classical Studies (BA) at King’s College London, and now coordinates UCL’s Climate Change and Health MSc module. She gave a talk on “Human health and climate change: aspects of generation, development, dissemination and advocacy”, which can be downloaded here: CRASSH Cambridge talk Nell Crowden 19.10.11
Nell was followed by Marcos Pelenur, PhD Student in the Department of Engineering and the Centre for Sustainable Development at Cambridge. His talk “Energy in the domestic built environment” looked at how people link energy use and their quality of life and looked at how perceptions of comfort are shaped among people in Manchester and Cardiff, and how these cultural ideas of what constitutes a comfortable lifestyle pose a challenge for our attempts to re-engineer the city in the context of climate change. His slides can be downloaded here: CRASSH Cambridge slides Marcos Pelenur 19.10.11
Our next meeting is on the 2nd November at 2.30pm in CRASSH, when our theme is: “What Does Sustainability Mean in an Era When We’re All Talking About Climate Change?”
For more details about our programme, see the CRASSH website.
Rivers of Ice: Vanishing Glaciers of the Greater Himalaya
David Breashears has retraced the steps of the early photographic pioneers Major E.O. Wheeler, George Mallory and Vittorio Sella.
For further information see:
Today on the news again on Himalayan glacier melting, and fears of floods for the villages in the Solo Khumbu area in Nepal….
Earlier this summer, some members of the network were lucky enough to visit and lend a hand at the Cambridge Archaeological Unit’s excavation at Willingham Mere, a former Fenland lake. It was an interesting demonstration of how archaeology can explore the deep history of environmental change in a particular place, and how that environmental change informs what we know about the way people lived and used the resources in an area. Local community archaeology groups and other residents from the area were involved in peeling back the layers of climate history that lie underneath the landscape we see today. Hayley Roberts, the outreach officer with the Cambridge Archaeological Unit, blogged about the process of the excavation, and posted various pictures of the dig as it was happening. Members of the network may be interested in seeing this account of the work the archaeologists and volunteers have done.
The blog posts tell a fascinating story:
Days One and Two – the dig begins
Days Three and Four – an ancient landscape is emerging
Days Five and Six – an extra dimension
Days Seven and Eight – ancient mallard
Days Nine and Ten – muddy mere
Days Eleven and Twelve – the end of the dig
The land that was excavated gives us an interesting insight into changing land use: not only do we see how innundation and drainage transformed the landscape of the past, but the excavation was being carried out ahead of gravel quarrying work by Hanson – and after Hanson have extracted gravel from the site, it is planned that it will become (once again) a wetland habitat and an RSPB nature reserve.
This is a wonderful opportunity for members of the public to:
** excavate this renowned former fenland lake, prehistoric forests & animal/bird skeletons;
** receive expert tuition in their identification; and
** learn about the region’s environmental history.
For those wishing less hands-on exposure, there will be daily tours and an accompanying public lecture with Christopher Evans in Willingham’s Baptist Church on June 2nd, 2011 at 7.30pm on “The Digging Environment: Willingham Mere and Prehistoric Wetland Resource-use”. As part of the programme fieldwork tutorials will also be given to RSPB wardens.
This initiative is funded by a University of Cambridge Knowledge Transfer Project-grant, as a shared endeavour between the Cambridge Archaeology Unit (CAU), the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB) and Hanson Aggregates.
The CORE network for Creative Research into the Environment is holding an event to launch their website and introduce the aims of their project.
See the invitation to their launch event: here
CORE, hosted by the Edinburgh College of Art, is a project “seeking to extend knowledge on the basis of collaborative work concerned with environmental change and with the value of a creative presence to provide representations with a cross disciplinary concern”. The network works across and between disciplines including art, architecture, anthropology, and the environmental sciences.
The introductory forum and website launch will take place at Evolution House, Edinburgh College of Art on Thursday 3rd March 2011:
3-5pm: presentations and introduction to CORE
5-7pm: informal discussions and refreshments
Members of the climate histories network are welcome, and should RSVP to firstname.lastname@example.org if they plan to attend.
For some there is no doubt that humans are altering the climate but the implications for regional weather are less clear. Two studies in this week’s Nature concluded that climate warming is already causing extreme weather events that affect the lives of millions of people.
More details: read here
This has a great importance “not just as a justification for emissions reduction, but also for adaptation planning”, says Michael Oppenheimer.