Workshop: Understanding public engagement with environmental issues: What can we learn via collaborative research?

Past Event

26 May 2011, 4:00pm - 6:00pm

Lecture Theatre, Oxford Martin School
34 Broad Street (corner of Holywell and Catte Streets), Oxford, OX1 3BD

Please note this workshop has been changed from 12 May to 26 May, from 3-5pm

What shapes public engagement in environmental issues, from food and natural resource production to global energy use? This workshop brings together researchers from various disciplines across the Oxford campus to share insights, ideas, experience, methodologies and opinions regarding the rational, normative and emotional dimensions regarding public engagement.

The workshop will begin with brief presentations by Angela Palmer and Bill Sharpe speaking on their work relating to public engagement. These will provide a starting point for discussions relating to this complex, multi-dimensional issue.

Angela Palmer (British artist and creator of the Ghost Forest installation,, says the Ghost Forest was “intended to highlight the alarming depletion of the world’s natural resources” through the display of stumps from a commercially logged forest in Ghana. The exhibit has been displayed in front of the Oxford Natural History museum for nine months, and served as the focal point of an MSc dissertation by Bronwyn Tarr at the Environmental Change Institute on “How art engages the public with environmental issues”.

Bill Sharpe is the author of “Economies of Life: patterns of Health and Wealth” He was the Research Director at Hewlett Packard Laboratories where he introduced scenario methods to support long range research and innovation. He is now an independent researcher part of the International Futures Forum (a non-profit organisation established to support a transformative response to complex and confounding challenges and to restore the capacity for effective action in today's powerful times) and leads the Designing for Transition ecology of arts project.

Martin Kirk is Head of UK Campaigns for Oxfam GB and represents Oxfam on the working group which oversaw the production of Common Cause: The Case for Working with our Cultural Values. This report waspublished in partnership with Climate Outreach and Information Network (COIN), Campaign to Protect Rural England (CPRE), Friends of the Earth (FOE), Oxfam and WWF-UK. The publication seeks to put positive cultural values and the 'frames' (cognitive structures which we use to interpret situations, discourse and ideas) that help to convey these, at the heart of the debate about the role of not-for-profit organisations in deepening public engagement with global challenges.

Participants will be invited to explore how their area of research might relate or contribute to an understanding of public engagement with environmental issues. The workshop aims to create a dialogue between researchers in different areas, thus possibly identifying areas for future interdisciplinary collaboration.

Among the many perspectives of relevance to this workshop are, inter alia, social movement theory, political ecology, economics, marketing, neuroscience, behavioural science and cognitive behavioural psychology, social psychology, educational psychology, citizen science and the natural sciences.

If you have an interest in the general topic of public engagement, or a specific area of research which might be of relevance to the exploration of the various social-psychological dimensions associated with environmental engagement, please join us for this discussion session on 26th May 3pm at the Old Indian Institute.

To reserve a place, please register at: