Climate change testimonies from refugees
The project aims were as follows:
• To enable refugee communities, scientists and social media scientists to collaborate on climate issues using creative media and facilitation.
• To bring academic knowledge and understanding into the experiences and observations of refugee communities.
• To stimulate greater appreciation and enjoyment of science, especially among refugee communities.
• To incorporate refugee observations and questions in academic research.
• To stimulate an increased appreciation amongst scientists and social scientists of directions and lines of enquiry that refugee communities would like to develop.
• To engage a wider public in debate about climate change issues.
Summary of activity:
Virtual Migrants in partnership with the Research Institute for Cosmopolitan Cultures and Manchester Refugee Support Network trained 15 members from different refugee communities in video camera interviewing and documenting techniques, including uses and methods of editing, internet uploading and blogging. These sessions were popular and discussions about climate change and refugees were integrated within the sessions.
An interdisciplinary forum of scientists, staff from cultural organisations and community members was established to promote discussion about current effects of climate change, including migration, refugee and asylum. The refugee members, in collaboration with Virtual Migrants, used interviews as the basis to gather testimonial data from themselves and from migrants and local people interested in being interviewed. The data was edited into key video clip components to form an archive, and also edited into a single presentation for discussion purposes.
As part of the Manchester Science Festival 2010 programme there was a mixed media event called “Climate Justice, Science and Refugees” where this project was presented to the public. Showing films and incorporating multimedia and performance was an essential part of the central discussions which took place. Attendance was excellent, the event selling out three weeks in advance, and feedback was overwhelmingly positive.
The Manchester Beacon supported the partners through three networking meetings, help with evaluating the project and dissemination of learning from the project at an annual University-Community Summit.
You can find some pictures for the project at:
http://bit.ly/hIVrea (Image credits: Jan Chlebik)
The project was evaluated following guidelines from the evaluation pack resources produced by the Manchester Beacon. Responses to the feedback sheets for the training course section expressed a consistent score of “excellent” for the training and very good for how well the project was run, coordination, marketing and bookings.
Audiences’ responses to the final forum event suggested a very high level (“excellent”) of interest and relevance of the event. The scores for the overall quality and for the enjoyment of the event were ranged between “excellent” and “good”. The format of the event was widely applauded and the majority of respondents expressed an interest to support or contribute to further activities.
The difficulty for discussion due to a possibly over rich variety of content. This event was also evaluated as part of the Manchester Science Festival 2010 evaluation (which was focused on community engagement).
What went well:
The project has introduced approaches, ways of working and thematic connections, which are fairly new in each of the respective fields and communities of interest involved.
Developing connections, interest and enthusiasm of a range of partners to undertake a further project.
This project was a good way to engage new audiences in science and to engage academics in public engagement actively shaped by community concerns and societal issues of often marginalised groups.
The audience felt the content of the project was relevant to them.
What was learned:
Better resourcing and more practice sessions would be good for future work.
Top tips and advice for others
• Set clear aims and objectives for the project. This must be agreed by all the partners involved in the project.
• The project must bring mutual benefits for all the partners involved in the project.
• Clarify the requirements expected from each of the partners from the outset.
• Good communication channels between the partners.
• Being realistic about what can be achieved with the time/resources available.
• Promote the use of creative methods to work with disengaged audiences.
• Incorporate training opportunities within the project to maximise the impact and sustain the benefits of the project.
• Sharing the learning from these projects widely.
• Consider the sustainability of this kind of initiative.