Pathways to Understanding the Changing Climate is an interdisciplinary research project hosted in the Mongolia & Inner Asia Studies Unit. It is funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC) and brings together educationalists and social anthropologists with the aim of understanding how people narrate and respond to their ever changing local landscapes. Team members from the Division of Social Anthropology include Dr David Sneath, Dr Richard Irvine and Dr Barbara Bodenhorn.
Using a range of innovative methodologies, the Pathways project traces the extent to which people connect their local environmental knowledge with global processes – from climate change, to habitat destruction. Following the Stern Review’s focus upon questions of intergenerational equity, a major focus for the project is how children learn about and make sense of environmental change. Members of our team are also investigating how people’s working lives shape their engagement with ecological concerns – locally, nationally, and globally.
Our key activities and outputs include:
- The creation of a database of narratives and images exploring environmental pasts and futures in East Anglia, a region with a long history of landscape flux and, due to its flat and low-lying nature, a particular vulnerability to processes of climate change.
- Working with schools in East Anglia and running a series of activities designed to get children to reflect upon and express their own perceptions of the changing environment.
- Organising an exhibition exploring how the environment changes over time, to be host by the Greater Fens Museum Partnership and curated by local children.
A further important part of our research agenda is to foster cross-cultural links between communities from different parts of the world with radically different ecologies. Drawing on existing networks in regions where the Division of Social Anthropology has strong working relationships – especially Alaska and Mongolia – we want to see whether communities make connections between environmental events that they perceive locally and events affecting localities elsewhere in the world. By establishing links between schools and organisations in East Anglia with their counterparts elsewhere in the world, we will not only be exploring how communities perceive environmental change in their own locality, but also how they receive and respond to the experience of change elsewhere in the world.