The potential of place-based, historically-informed approaches to drive climate action has not yet been adequately interrogated. Recent scholarly work has focussed on climate communication and the role of arts and humanities-led storytelling in engaging people in climate narratives. Far less has been said about mobilising arts and creativity to build anticipatory climate action. perNor have archival material and pre-twentieth century histories of living with water and flood been widely utilised in this endeavour. This paper reflects on our experiences delivering the UKRI-funded Risky Cities programme and specifically, of developing and utilising a learning histories approach that folds together past, present and future in productive ways so as to learn from the past and the present and rethink the future. Risky Cities uses this approach to develop engagement tools at different scales, evaluating their impact throughout using participant interviews, reflective focus groups, and surveys. Analysing this data, we consistently find that using learning histories as the foundation of arts-led and creative community engagement makes big narratives about global climate change locally meaningful. Crucially, this drives cognitive shifts, behavioural change and anticipatory action for both participants and audiences. Thus, our learning histories approach is an important participatory tool for building climate action, empowerment and resilience.
McDonagh, B., Brookes, E., Smith, K., Worthen, H., Coulthard, T., Hughes, G., …Chamberlain, J. (2023). Learning histories, participatory methods and creative engagement for climate resilience. Journal of Historical Geography, 82, 91-97. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jhg.2023.09.002