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Climate Visuals Masterclass: Time for a new visual language for climate change?

September 27 2017


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 this interactive masterclass that provides an opportunity to learn more about climate change imagery, as well as learn and apply practical skills for more effective communication.

In the second of a series of international ‘Masterclasses’, Climate Outreach presents a new flagship project - Climate Visuals - that will equip participants with the knowledge and skills required to catalyse a new visual language for climate change.

The Climate Visuals masterclass takes place on Wednesday 27 September 2017, from 10am to 4:30pm, at the University of Salzburg, in conjunction with the K3 conference on Climate Change, Communication & Society. Facilitated by Adam Corner (Research Director, Climate Outreach), the full-day event will also include perspectives and insights from leading experts in climate photography, campaigning, visual reporting and communication.

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 different experts, 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
  • Take the first steps towards a Climate Visuals community (sharing best-practice, insights and expertise across sectors), to catalyse 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
  • Climate Visuals: Seven Principles for more effective visual communication
  • Telling new visual stories: catalysing a new visual language for climate change
  • Campaign Case Studies: climate change images for a successful campaign
  • Digital & social media: testing images for impact


Date: Wednesday 27 September 2017
Times: Full-day event, 10am-4.30pm
Location: University of Salzburg

Lunch and refreshments included.


Meet Our Speakers

Until August this year, James Painter was the Director of the Journalism Fellowship Programme at the Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism (RISJ), a position he held  for 8 years. He is currently a visiting professor at the Institute of Mass Communication and Media Research (IMPZ), University of Zurich.

The focus of his work is the study of climate change in the international media, regularly writing on the issue and speaking at major international conferences for academics, journalists, policy makers and scientists. He has given evidence to two recent select committees of the UK Houses of Parliament.

He is the author of five RISJ publications focused on climate change, including the most recent Something Old, Something New: Digital Media and the Coverage of Climate Change, published in 2016. He is also the author of several academic articles on the media's reporting of climate change.


Sarah Hurtes is Media Associate at the European Climate Foundation

French born and South African raised, Sarah has lived in several countries working in the intergovernmental/humanitarian sector and journalistic field. She completed a Master's degree in Development, Gender and Globalisation at the London School of Economics. Sarah has had various communications roles within different institutions, including coordinating campaigns whilst working for the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe. She also worked on global outreach strategies for the European Women's Audiovisual Network in Paris and NGO Gender Links in Mauritius.

Her love for investigative writing motivated her to freelance as a journalist in India and Nepal. Before joining the European Climate Foundation (ECF), Sarah was asked to participate in COP21 as a Communications consultant for the United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women. Sarah now leads the work on climate and health for ECF's strategic communications network.


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


Barbara Dombrowski is a renowned German photographer and visual artist, who dedicates her work to places affected by climate change.

In her work, she has been focusing on relevant and specific climate localities and their populations, who are threatened by outer influences of our modern world, be it through direct or indirect impacts of climate change.

Her project, Tropic Ice - Dialog between Places Affected by Climate Change, explores, in the first step, the lives of people living on two different continents of two extreme climate zones - East Greenland and the Amazon basin in Ecuador - where she spent time with indigenous people, observing their habits and way of life. It allowed her to take intimate portraits of their natural surroundings and, in 2013, to implement her vision of confronting two different cultures who live in two climate extremes, creating a bridge between two cultures. In the second step, Barbara worked in one of the most affected areas by climate change, the Gobi Desert in southern Mongolia, and Tanzania, where she also started to cooperate with the Jane Goodall Institute. These two regions affected by climate change, together with the upcoming third area she’s planning to visit - in the South Pacific Islands of Vanuatu and Kiribati - Barbara will be cover one specific location threatened by climate change on each continent.

A final large installation will bring together these images and their original context to the people of the world, telling a deeper story about how we are all connected on our planet - through the issue of climate change. This art-installation will be implemented in spring 2019 at the foot of Mount Kilimanjaro, in Tanzania.


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 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 website 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.


The tickets for this event with be €70 for a full day masterclass and is inclusive of a vegetarian lunch and refreshments throughout the day. If you have any specific dietary requirements then please indicate these in the appropriate section on the registration form.