It’s been years since I’ve made a blog entry on this site which, rest assured, I still consider unfinished business. After all, twenty-two hours’ worth of video footage from the interviews I conducted back in 2009 with scientists, politicians, activists and concerned citizens for U: The Comedy of Global Warming remains to be edited into digestible clips and posted here. For anyone reading this, I still plan to do so and hope to begin posting new excerpts before the end of this year, so stay tuned.
But I’m writing now because results of the research conducted by Grace Reid and Inger-Lise Bore in consultation with audiences who saw U: has now been published by the journal Science Communication. Their scholarly article Laughing in the Face of Climate Change? Satire as a Device for Engaging Audiences in Public Debate is currently available on-line. It will also be published in a special print issue coming out this August.
Grace, a lecturer at Mount Royal University and an adjunct professor of science communications at the Centre for Research in Youth, Science, Teaching and Learning (CRYSTAL) at the University of Alberta, approached me back in 2009 when I was in pre-production for U: because she and Inger-Lise, who’s a lecturer at the Birmingham School of Media (Birmingham City University), were interested in studying the manner in which difficult scientific subjects are treated in plays, and in particular in gauging the degree to which satire succeeds or fails when dealing with an issue like climate change.
Grace and Inger-Lise kindly sent me a .pdf of their paper, which I read with great interest. I found it an encouraging and, at the same time, humbling read. It was no surprise to find out that not everyone liked the play. In fact I try to be honest with myself about how I thought U: succeeded and how it failed (to start with, I’ll be the first to admit the show was too damn long). But much as it may have stung when I came across less positive comments made about the play made by focus group participants, reading about how U: did and didn’t achieve its goal to stimulate curiosity, conversation, and, most important of all, public action on climate change in and by its actual audience members was very informative. The exercise certainly made me curious to find out more if, as I think Grace has intimated, there are indeed further papers related to their work on U: to come!
If you’d like to read Grace and Inger-Lise’s excellent paper (and I encourage people to do so!) you can peruse the abstract and download the article from the Science Communications website. There’s a fee for the full text but if you’re impecunious, as one of my old professors would say, you can contact Grace or Inger-Lise directly and request the .pdf (e-mail links to come). Alternatively, you can also check out Inger-Lise’s posting about their research on U: at On/Off Screen.