Analysing the Impact of the Creative Climate Action Initiative on Climate Change Awareness, Engagement and Action in Ireland

Title:

Analysing the Impact of the Creative Climate Action Initiative on Climate Change Awareness, Engagement and Action in Ireland

Principal Investigator:

Dr Marguerite Nyhan

Team:

Aoife Deane, Alexandra Revez, Joanne Mac Mahon

Funding Body:

Department of Tourism, Culture, Arts, Gaeltacht, Sports and Media (Creative Ireland Programme)

Project Duration:

18 Months

Start Date:

October 2021

End Date:

April 2023

Introduction

The Creative Ireland Programme, based in the Department of Tourism, Culture, Arts, Gaeltacht, Sports and Media, is a 5-year all-of-government initiative which places creativity at the centre of public policy. The core proposition is that participation in cultural and creative activity promotes individual, community and national wellbeing. In March 2021, the Creative Climate Action fund was launched in collaboration with the Department of the Environment, Climate and Communications. This will fund 15 creative and cultural projects that aim to meaningfully connect people with the profound changes that are happening as a result of climate change, and transform that connection into climate action. The overarching aim of the proposed project is to optimise the design and effectiveness of the Creative Climate Action projects. This includes developing a framework for measuring the impact of the Creative Climate Action initiative on climate change awareness, engagement and action in the public.

The arts can play a valuable role in enabling dialogue and engaging diverse audiences in new perspectives and action on climate change. Leveraging the arts in action-oriented and engaged contexts offers new opportunities to challenge and collaborate with industry, science and technology. Building the knowledge base required to support this promising area of research and engagement is crucial in order to adequately recognise the untapped potential of the arts and cultural sector to foster alternative responses to climate change. In this context, new parameters are needed to explore the arts, that transcend conventional parameters of communication and outreach and embrace the potential of the arts and broader cultural and creative interventions as co-generators of knowledge, climate action and transformative change. We will develop and implement a framework for evaluating creative and performative climate action projects funded under the Creative Climate Action call. The proposed work will include an assessment of impacts in terms of engagement with multiple stakeholders, communities and the broader public. Such impacts may include a change in awareness, engagement, attitudes, perceptions and/or behaviour related to climate change and climate change action, as well as other emergent societal impact processes.   

Key Objectives

Objective 1. Review existing national and international literature and projects, and share specific relevant learnings of best practice related to the arts, and broader cultural and creative interventions for public engagement on climate change and climate change action. 

Objective 2.  Develop a framework to explore and assess the contribution of Creative Climate Action projects toward societal transformation in response to climate change. The assessment framework will consider emergent contributions that connect people, problems and solutions in an inclusive manner.

Objective 3. Provide recommendations and guidance for Irish policy-makers concerning how creative interventions might be designed to more effectively encourage climate compatible behavioural change in the future. 

Work Packages

WP1: Methodological Refinement

Timeline: Month 1 to Month 7

Description:

Task 1.1. Review any existing national and international literature on evaluating the impact of the arts, creative and cultural initiatives and interventions for public engagement on public awareness, attitudes and perceptions of climate change and climate change action. Review all funded Creative Climate Action projects. Liaise with the Creative Carbon Scotland research team to share knowledge and insights (Month 1-7).  

Task 1.2. Participate in an induction workshop to explore insights and knowledge in relation to the arts and cultural and creative interventions, public engagement and climate action across the different projects (Month 1-2). 

Task 1.3. Devise and refine methodology for assessing the impact of the Creative Climate Action initiatives on public awareness and attitudes to climate change and climate change action. This will include the planning and design of data collection efforts (Month 1-3). 

WP2: Examining the Impact of the Creative Climate Action Initiatives on Public Attitudes to Climate Change and Climate Change Action

Timeline: Month 2 to Month 18

Description:

Task 2.1. Conduct a qualitative analyses of the impact of the Creative Climate Action arts and cultural projects on attitudes and perceptions to climate change and climate action in Ireland. For this, we will examine the extent to which this national cultural initiative and selected projects shape beliefs, values, awareness, attitudes, perceptions, and participation and behaviour in relation to climate change and climate change action. As part of this, we will examine observable or measurable changes in behaviour as well as people’s opinions, in the funded projects that are designed to do achieve this outcome. Research techniques employed may include surveys, ethnographic fieldwork through focus group sessions, participant observations, semi-structured interviews, critical discourse analysis of media coverage and social media posts. The data collected will be compared and contrasted with existing national and European surveys of the broader public (EPA Red-C, EPA/Yale Climate Change in the Irish Mind, Irish Times/Ipsos, Eurobarometer, European Social Survey etc.), (Month 2-6). 

Task 2.2. For a selected number of projects funded under Creative Climate Action, we will consider methods which will be used to evaluate and assess the impact of their project on audience awareness and attitudes to climate change and climate change action. These will be explored as iterative tools over the project life cycles and will incorporate learnings from the induction workshop to process and to promote reflexive and critical learning to maximize impact (Month 7-12). 

Task 2.3. We will identify effective arts and cultural communication and media that have the most impact on awareness and motivation to act on climate change.  We will identify frameworks and emergent indicators for measuring the impact of arts and cultural initiatives on climate change and climate change action (from local to national scale). We will consider the activities that have been effective and why, while also considering estimations of the costs of such interventions. This will enable improved strategic planning and design of evolving cultural initiatives and similar processes in Ireland in the future (Month 13-18). 

WP3: Recommendations, Guidance & Dissemination of the Project Findings

Timeline:Month 3 to Month 18

Description:

Task 3.1. Produce a full report which will include relevant literature; the project methodology; and the findings of the research in relation to the impact of the Creative Climate Action initiatives on public awareness and attitudes to climate change and climate change action. It will also includes guidelines and recommendations in relation to future climate-focused cultural and arts initiatives in Ireland. This report will be submitted to Creative Ireland. This will be submitted to Creative Ireland (Month 13-18).

Task 3.2. Produce a summary report outlining specific recommendations and guidance relating to policy and practice. This will be submitted to Creative Ireland (Month 15-18).

Task 3.3. Disseminate findings through conferences, blogs and op-eds, social media and through a project website (hosted by MaREI). Present the research findings to Creative Ireland, the Department of Tourism, Culture, Arts, Gaeltacht, Sports and Media and the Department of Environment, Climate & Communications (Month 3-18).

Key Outputs

  • Qualitative analyses of the impact of the Creative Climate Action initiative and selected arts and cultural projects on attitudes, perceptions and actions to climate change and climate change action.
  • Characteristics of effective projects and indicators for measuring the impact of arts and cultural initiatives on climate change and climate change action.
  • Full report including relevant literature; the project methodology; the findings of the research; and guidance and recommendations in relation future climate-focused cultural and arts initiatives in Ireland.
  • Summary report including a succinct summary of key recommendations relating to future policy and practice for major arts and cultural initiatives which will support societal transformation and impact for a sustainable future.

Team Biographies

Dr. Marguerite Nyhan (Senior Lecturer in the School of Engineering & Architecture, UCC & MaREI Funded Investigator)

Dr. Marguerite Nyhan is a Senior Lecturer in Future Sustainability in the School of Engineering & Architecture at University College Cork and a Visiting Scientist at Harvard University in Boston. She is also a Principal Investigator at the Environmental Research Institute and a Funded Investigator at the MaREI Centre for Climate, Energy and Marine. Marguerite lectures in environmental engineering, systems thinking for sustainability and in data analytics. Her research group focuses on developing intelligent solutions for zero-carbon, sustainable, healthy and liveable cities of the future. Since joining UCC in 2019, Marguerite has won 5.1 million euro in funding as lead PI. This includes acting as PI on the HEA-funded Sustainable Futures project and the EPA-funded CCHANGE project. Dr. Nyhan previously worked at Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in Boston where she led the Urban Environmental Research Team within MIT’s Senseable City Laboratory. Subsequently, she was a Post-Doctoral researcher at Harvard University’s School of Public Health. Later, she was recruited to United Nations Global Pulse at the United Nations in New York City where she led groundbreaking research on the application of emerging technologies in sustainable development and humanitarian efforts. Dr. Nyhan has a PhD from Trinity College Dublin and was a Fulbright Scholar at MIT. Marguerite has spoken to a range of audiences globally; from lecturing at MIT and Harvard, and giving a TED talk in her home country of Ireland to addressing the United Nations Environment Assembly in Kenya. Marguerite will project manage this collaboration and oversee the work carried out by the two post-doctoral researchers assigned to the project.

Ms. Aoife Deane (MaREI Communications & Public Engagement Manager)

Aoife Deane is an experienced science communication and engagement professional with 20 years’ experience in the sector. She graduated from UCC in 2001 with a BSc in Earth Sciences and completed a master’s in science communication in Queens University Belfast. Aoife has been working in UCC since 2008, and with MaREI since 2015 where she led the development and implementation of MaREI’s Public Engagement Strategic Plan 2019-2025. Aoife’s CPD training has included Climate Communications, Project Management, Creative Facilitation, Logic Modelling, Impact Assessment, and Community Based Social Marketing. Her research interests include Evaluating and Assessing the Impact of Engaged Research in Climate Action.

Dr. Joanne Mac Mahon (Senior Postdoctoral Researcher)

Joanne Mac Mahon is a Senior Postdoctoral Researcher with over 20 years’ experience in the areas of environmental engineering and sustainable development. She holds a PhD in Environmental Engineering from Trinity College Dublin and an MSc in Development Studies from UCD. In addition to her research career, Joanne previously worked as an engineer in the private sector and as a development and humanitarian professional for international NGOs and the United Nations. Joanne’s research interests include sustainable water and wastewater management and treatment systems; sustainable development for both developing and developed countries; climate change behaviour, mitigation and adaptation.  Her research has been funded through the IRC, EPA and SFI. 

Dr. Alexandra Revez (Senior Postdoctoral Researcher)

Alexandra Revez is a Senior Postdoctoral Researcher. She is a practiced academic with expertise in Human Geography, Political Science & Sociology and Community Development. Her recent collaborative research work with the Imagining2050 project has focused on democratic innovations, co-creation, leveraging collective imaginations and engagement with communities on issues linked to climate action in Ireland. Alexandra is an external expert advisor with the Teaching Council, a member of the ‘Enabling Societal Transformations’ JPI Climate Action Group, and a member of the newly established ‘Gender and Energy’ IEA Task Force.

Contact

For further support or information, please contact Joanne Mac Mahon, the senior postdoctoral researcher for this project.

Survey Information

If you have participated in or attended a Creative Climate Action event or experience and would like to assist us in our research by completing an anonymous survey, please click on the following link:  https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/ZBZ8GTS 

The projects we are looking at include KinShip (Cork City), Field Exchange (Tipperary), Repair Acts (Westmeath), Crumlin Taking Action Together (Dublin City) and Linte na Farraige (Galway, Wexford or Dublin) but the survey can be completed for other Creative Climate Action projects also. 

If you have completed a survey or interview related to the Creative Climate Action project and need some further support or information on related topics, please consult the organisations listed below or contact Joanne Mac Mahon, the senior postdoctoral researcher for this project. 

  • For information on Climate Change issues in Ireland (e.g. flooding, coastal erosion, sea level rise, storm events etc.) please see www.caro.ie or contact your regional CARO office
  • For Energy Poverty issues please contact Energy Action (Tel: +353 1 454 5464 ; info@energyaction.ie ) or St Vincent De Paul
  • For Climate Action information please contact Friends of the Earth (Tel: +353 1 6394652; fo@foe.ie).   
  • For Housing issues please contact Threshold
  • For other information please contact the Citizen’s Information Centre (Tel: 0818 07 4000).