Visualising Climate Change 2020 Hackathon

How has the evidence base for what constitutes effective, powerful climate imagery evolved since our original 2016 Climate Visuals research?

Earlier this month, Climate Visuals and Saffron O’Neill, Associate Professor in Geography at Exeter University, organised the ‘Visualising Climate Change 2020 Hackathon’ to critically update and expand the evidence base for how to effectively communicate climate change through imagery.

Together we convened  a dozen academics specialising in climate change imagery as well as industry professionals from both Getty Images and the World Press Photo Foundation. Members of the Climate Visuals team included Toby Smith, Adam Corner and Joel Silver.

The starting point of this proactive Hackathon was the 7 Climate Visuals principles which in practice are fused collaboratively by the Climate Visuals team with observations and critiques of newsroom and image sourcing processes.  The Hackathon brought together the latest insights of the room, promoted critical dialogue and identified gaps in knowledge requiring new research. It also reflected on the rapidly widening and intensifying coverage of climate change throughout 2019.

The immediate results of this Hackathon include a sense of community and reinforced connections among practitioners and academics within what is a niche and specialist area. The informal notes, documents, references and discussions were collated live and will be edited into an accessible report to be co-authored and published by Climate Visuals and Saffron O’Neill in the next few months.

The 7 Climate Visuals principles published in 2016 were critically tested and scrutinised but reassuringly, came away unscathed as an accessible and robust guide to editing and commissioning Climate imagery for 2020.  It was gratifying to learn that everyone attending left with an accelerated understanding of the state of climate imagery and a sense of purpose for the challenge ahead.

Both Saffron O’Neill and the Climate Visuals team would like to thank everyone who attended and those on our guest list who, although unable to attend, have already kindly offered to help review the draft report before publication. We would also like to thank the ESRC (Economic Social Research Council) for their funding as part of an Impact Acceleration Grant.


Dr. Adam Corner, Research Director, Climate Visuals

Dr. Antal Wozniak, Communication and Media, University of Liverpool

Prof. Birgit Schneider, University of Applied Sciences in Potsdam

Prof. Brigitte Nerlich, Sociology and Social Policy, University of Nottingham

David Campbell, Director of Programs and Outreach, World Press Photo Foundation

Dorothea Born, Science and Technology Studies, University of Vienna

Prof. Ed Hawkins, Public Engagement, University of Reading

Esther Greussing, Communication and Media Studies, Technische Universität Braunschweig

Fiona Shields, Head of Photography, The Guardian

Associate Prof. Hywel Williams, Computer Science, University of Exeter

James Painter, Reuters Institute / Politics and International Relations, University of Oxford

Joel Silver, Partnerships Manager, Climate Visuals

Dr. Jordan Harold, Psychology, University of East Anglia

Dr. Kate Manzo, International Development, University of Newcastle

Kirstin Kidd, Picture Editor, The Economist

Laurie Goering, Climate Change and Development, Thomson Reuters Foundation

Dr. Martin Mahoney, Environmental Studies, University of East Anglia

Niall McLoughlin, Psychology, Bath University

Paul Heinicker, Interaction Design Lab, University of Applied Sciences in Potsdam

Dr. Rebecca Swift, Head of Creative Insights, Getty Images

Associate Prof. Saffron O’Neill, Geography, University of Exeter

Sylvia Hayes, Geography, Exeter University

Toby Smith, Programme Lead, Climate Visuals

Dr. Travis Coan, Politics, University of Exeter

Dr. Warren Pearce, Sociological Studies, University of Sheffield


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