Skip to main content
Man looking out from wind turbine

Image credit and licensing information: Robert van Waarden / Aurora Photos

Climate Visuals Masterclass: Catalysing a new visual language for climate change

September 4 2017

Thomson Reuters Foundation, London

This masterclass took place on 4 September 2017. To find out about upcoming masterclasses, please sign up to our newsletter!

Do you work in climate change communication or campaigning, are you a journalist or photographer looking to tell new climate stories, or does your research focus on public engagement with climate change?

Do you want to increase your knowledge and learn the skills to catalyse a more diverse and compelling visual language for climate change?

Don’t miss the inaugural Climate Visuals masterclass which takes place on Monday 4th September 2017 from 10 - 4:30pm, hosted by our partners the Thomson Reuters Foundation in London. Led by Adam Corner (Research Director, Climate Outreach), the full-day event will include perspectives and insights from leading experts in climate photography, campaigning, visual reporting and communication. This will include a session from the Thomson Reuters Foundation Climate Change Editor, Laurie Goering, who will share her extensive experience reporting on climate change around the world and how imagery has changed and developed over the past 20 years.

Who is the Masterclass for?

This Masterclass is for communications professionals (from NGOs and commercial organisations), journalists and photographers who want to tell new visual stories about climate change, and researchers who focus on public engagement with climate change. It is the first in a series of international events delivered through the ‘Climate Visuals’ programme. Climate Visuals is a flagship project from Climate Outreach that seeks to build a global community of visual communicators, and support influential voices to tell powerful new visual stories. We’re looking for motivated and open-minded participants to take the first steps towards catalysing a new visual language for climate change.

At the Climate Visuals Masterclass you will:

  • Gain an in-depth understanding of the Climate Visuals approach, the audience research underpinning it, and the wider evidence base on visual climate change communication through photographic imagery
  • Apply this learning by critically exploring case studies and previous campaigns
  • Hear from a variety of experts in different fields, providing different perspectives and tried-and-tested advice on the challenge of telling powerful visual stories on climate change
  • Learn skills to design and deliver effective communication through climate photography
  • Explore the idea of building a ‘Climate Visuals community’ (sharing best practice, insights and expertise across sectors) to take the first steps towards catalysing a new visual language for climate change, centred on the growing Climate Visuals image library.


  • Images of climate change: Setting the scene and mapping the landscape - Adam Corner
  • Climate Visuals: Seven Principles for more effective visual communication - Adam Corner
  • Campaign Case Studies - Robin Webster
  • Guests perspectives - Robert van Waarden (Climate Photographer) and Laurie Goering (Climate Change Editor)  
  • Digital & social media: testing images for impact - Susie Wang and Adam Corner
  • Telling new visual stories: catalysing a new visual language for climate change  - Adam Corner


Date: Monday 4 September 2017
Times: Full-day event, 10am-4.30pm
Location: The Auditorium, Thomson Reuters Foundation, 30 South Colonnade, Canary Wharf, London, E14 5EP

Lunch and refreshments included.


Meet Our Speakers

Laurie Goering edits the Thomson Reuters Foundation’s award-winning daily news website on the humanitarian and development impacts of climate change. As part of her work, she created and mentors a network of more than 100 developing world climate change journalists.

The website she runs has won a broad range of awards, including the Society of Publishers in Asia award for “excellence in reporting on the environment” in 2016 and the Asian Environmental Journalism award for “excellence in environmental reporting by a media organisation” in 2015 and 2013. The journalists she trained and mentors also have won numerous awards, scholarships and reporting fellowships.

Prior to coming to the Thomson Reuters Foundation in 2009, she worked as a foreign correspondent for the Chicago Tribune newspaper for 15 years based in New Delhi, Kuwait, Johannesburg, Rio de Janeiro, Havana, Mexico City and London, covering a wide range of issues. She is on Twitter as @lauriegoering


Adam Corner is the Research Director at Climate Outreach and Project Manager of the Climate Visuals programme, aimed at transforming the visual language of climate change. He is also an Honorary Research Fellow at the School of Psychology, Cardiff University. Adam manages Climate Outreach's research portfolio and directs Climate Outreach's collaborations with academic partners. He writes regularly for the national media, including The Guardian and New Scientist magazine. He is the co-author, with Jamie Clarke, of Talking Climate: From Research to Practice in Public Engagement, published in November 2016. Follow him on Twitter @AJCorner


Robin Webster has been researcher, writer and campaigner on environmental issues for fifteen years. She has been Friends of the Earth’s senior campaigner on energy and and climate change and also helped start up the award winning climate blog Carbon Brief, where she worked for three years. Robin has a particular interest in storytelling and the psychology of our responses to climate change. In 2015 Robin worked as part of Climate Outreach's climate visuals team and she is co-author of the original report. She has a masters from University College London in conservation and a degree in biology. Robin also teaches comedy improvisation classes. Follow her @RobinWebs


Robert van Waarden is a Dutch Canadian photographer based in Eastern Canada. His experience around the world, the people he has encountered, and the landscapes he has photographed have led him to turn his lens on the most important issue facing humanity, Climate Change. He believes in the power of photography to make a difference and that through documentation of the social and natural world we can shift the world towards a thriving future. He is the photography advisor on the Climate Visuals project, a co-director of the Survival Media Agency and creator of Along the Pipeline.
His clean style has appeared in major national and international outlets including The Guardian, National Geographic Traveler, Canadian Geographic, the United Nations Environment Program, the British Council, and numerous other magazines, NGOs and non-profit publications. Van Waarden’s images have appeared in exhibits across the globe. These include solo exhibitions in London, Montreal, Toronto, Washington D.C., Cairo, Amsterdam, Bonn, Barcelona and Ottawa. He's on Twitter as @rvanwaarden


Susie Wang is an Australian PhD candidate studying psychological distance from climate change. She is interested in the factors that lead people to feel close to climate change, particularly the role of emotions, identity and social connections. So far, her research has taken her to the Netherlands, Chile, and Oxford: earlier this year, Susie completed a research internship at Climate Outreach, supporting the team on Climate Visuals, and is currently working with Adam and several co-authors on a review of climate imagery in the digital landscape. Outside of work, Susie is a visual artist, and enjoys bringing that aspect of her life into this work as well. Follow her .@xsusiewang

Facilitator profile

Léane de Laigue is Head of Communications at Climate Outreach. She brings 15 years of international experience in environmental education, communication and marketing. Prior to joining Climate Outreach, she lived in Vancouver where she worked at the David Suzuki Foundation as well as taught an Environmental Studies class at a secondary school. Before that, she worked in London as a Marketing Manager for Johnson & Johnson. She holds a Master’s in Environment & Management and a B Ed (Canada), an MBA in Marketing (US) and a B.A in Humanities (France). She is a native speaker of English and French.



Despite the energy and resources dedicated to communication and campaigning on climate change, an understanding of how to effectively engage people using visual images is much more limited. As a result, an easily-recognisable climate change iconography has taken root over the past 25 years: polar bears, melting ice-caps, smokestacks and (as our research shows) potentially polarising images of environmental protesters. This narrow visual vocabulary undermines the effectiveness of campaign messages, is a barrier to personal behavioural engagement, and detracts from the reach and value of journalistic reporting on climate change. A more compelling and diverse visual language for climate change is urgently required.

To address this problem, Climate Outreach created the Climate Visuals website and library, a pioneering evidence-based resource for visual climate change communication. Based on international social research in Europe and the US, this unique resource offers seven core principles for effective visual communication, plus an initial library of images. The project has already fostered a global network of online users, and the Climate Visuals resource informed and influenced campaigners at COP22 in Marrakech.

Now, with events and workshops planned around the world, and hundreds of new images being added to the Climate Visuals image library, we’re aiming to create a dynamic hub for visual climate change communicators, and work with the world’s most influential visual communicators to catalyse a new - more compelling and diverse - visual language for climate change.


  • £270 - Organisations (turnover > £1 million)
  • £200 - Organisations (turnover £250,000 - £1 million)
  • £135 - Organisations (turnover < £250,000) and individuals
  • This cost is inclusive of VAT at 20% and includes a vegetarian lunch and refreshments throughout the day. When registering please indicate if you have any specific dietary requirements.

About the Thomson Reuters Foundation

We are the philanthropic arm of the world’s largest news and information provider and an independently registered charity in the US and UK. We leverage the know-how, reach and reputation of Thomson Reuters to run free programmes that promote the highest standards in journalism and spread the rule of law worldwide: free legal assistance, media development and training, coverage of the world’s under-reported news, and Trust Conference.