I am  a PhD research student in the Geography department at the Open University. My PhD is a studentship sponsored by the Ashden Trust , an environmental charity which supports among other things, cultural work on climate change. My PhD topic is (at present): Culture and Climate Change: Representations of climate change in contemporary art exhibitions. My supervisors are:  Joe Smith (OU, Geography), Clive Barnett (OU, Geography) and Robert Butler (Ashden Directory).

Prior to studying at the OU, I worked as a Research Communications Executive at AHDB-HGCA, the levy board for cereals and oilseeds.  Working in knowledge transfer and science communications, I contributed to a Defra-funded project, Farming Futures, which sought to communicate messages about climate change to UK farmers.

I have lived in the UK since 2004, when I relocated to pursue a MSc in Culture and Society (Sociology) at the LSE.  Prior to moving to London, I lived in Illinois and attended UIC, graduating with a degree in Sociology and English Literature.

Abstract about my research:

To coincide with the climate change negotiations at COP15, a number of contemporary art exhibitions were held which directly addressed climate change.  These include the Earth: Art of a Changing World exhibition at the Royal Academy in London and the RETHINK Climate Change and Contemporary Art exhibitions in Copenhagen.  These exhibitions raise interesting questions about the role of contemporary art in our understanding of climate change.  This research will investigate the types of art that was exhibited: which themes were addressed by the art and how the institutions and exhibitions positioned themselves within the larger climate change discourses.  I am interested in the curators’ perspectives: how they determined which art related to climate change and what they hoped the exhibitions would achieve.  I am also interested in the perspectives of the artists whose work was exhibited: what was their relationship to issues of climate change and whether they originally intended for their work to be about climate change.  Data collection will include interviews with artists, curators, funders and other individuals involved with the coordination of the exhibits.  I will also use supporting documents such as the exhibition catalogues, reviews and blogs on the critical reception of the exhibits.  My methodological approach is similar to the ‘circuits of culture’ which investigates cultural phenomena from a wide perspective and is interested in the interactions amongst the various actors involved in the production and consumption of culture.  By addressing a specific example of cultural production on climate change, I hope to investigate the larger role of culture in addressing climate change in our society.


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