Researchers Turning Activists: Climate Emergency and the Alliance between Scientists and Environmental Activists

Over the past year the unfolding crisis of climate change was brought back to public attention and the political agenda thanks to environmental protests by Extinction Rebellion, Fridays for Future and others. Many researchers, who work on climate change and its wider consequences, came forward to speak out and support the protests, some even joined the protesters in the streets. However, usually academics are reluctant to go beyond communicating science and to become political activists. Many researchers feel that a boundary between science and politics must be upheld to maintain the credibility of science beyond political ideologies and agendas. But is that feasible and sensible in the context of climate emergency? The restraint has led to criticism from civil society, who at times express frustration over academics’ reluctance to support them more openly and radically. Which role and stance should and can researchers adopt? Can and should researchers be activists? What are the benefits, what are the dangers? These questions are not only relevant for researchers interested in climate change but equally to researchers working on gender, racism etc. And of course there are important links between climate change, feminism, racism, inequality etc. In this workshop we will discuss the climate emergency from various perspectives (incl. eco-feminist perspective and why climate crisis is a racist crisis) and we will discuss scholar activism in the age of climate emergency.

Speakers / Panellists:

  • Julia Steinberger, School of Earth and Environment, University of Leeds
  • Niamh Moore, School of Social and Political Science, University of Edinburgh
  • Paul Routledge, School of Geography, University of Leeds
  • Anupama Ranwana, Visiting Researcher at Oxford Brookes University
  • Paul Chatterton, School of Geography, University of Leeds