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Northwestern Buffett Institute for Global Affairs

Climate Crisis and Media Arts

There is no shortage of scholarly studies and media representations that frame the ongoing climate emergency as an existential problem. These forms imagine possible environmental futures in order to enact real change in the present. Whether they will succeed in decisively shifting the cultural, political, and legal obstacles to effective action is the greatest uncertainty humanity has ever faced. In the midst of this uncertainty, however, people around the world are already living within a changing climate. This public-facing and interdisciplinary project centers on the everyday experiences of people living on the front lines of the climate emergency. What does climate change actually look and feel like? How does it intersect with and compound other pressing problems, including migration and economic inequality?

Combining the expressive power of the media arts with critical frames offered by the environmental humanities and the rigor of climate science, this project seeks to influence cultural and political discourse on the climate emergency not by speculating on unlivable futures, but by creating new ways of depicting what it means to live and die within a changing climate, right now. It brings together artists, scholars, activists, and students, with the goal of producing empowering, public-facing, and sensorial depictions of the material effects and lived experience of climate crisis in a range of sites in China, Central America, the US-Mexico Borderlands, Southeast Asia, and beyond. View the Climate Crisis and Media Arts group's 2021 Idea Incubation Showcase presentation here >> 


Group Leads
  • Corey Byrnes, Asian Languages & Cultures, Weinberg College of Arts & Sciences, Northwestern University
  • JP Sniadecki, Documentary Media, Northwestern University School of Communication
Group Members
  • Joanne Leow, English, University of Saskatchewan
  • Michael Metzger, Block Museum, Northwestern University
  • Lakshmi Padmanabhan, Radio/Television/Film, Northwestern University School of Communication
  • Ines Sommer, Documentary Media, Northwestern University School of Communication
  • Brett Story, Documentary Media, Ryerson University
  • Calum Walter, Radio/Television/Film, Northwestern University School of Communication