UCL Institute for Global Prosperity


Telling ‘graphic’ stories about climate change: representing lived experience from below

23 November 2023, 4:30 pm–6:00 pm

Young people at a protest holding a megaphone

Join us for a Director's Seminar with Dr Gemma Sou from University of Manchester.

Event Information

Open to





UCL Institute for Global Prosperity


E28 Harrie Massey LT
25 Gordon Street
United Kingdom

Climate change researchers often struggle to connect their findings to broader audiences. In this talk I show how comics represent a sophisticated, versatile, and exciting opportunity to communicate research in a form that is informative but not condescending. Comics encourage researchers to gather ‘thick descriptions’ about seldom seen experiences of everyday life with climate change. They can build beautiful, sensitive, and compelling first-person climate change narratives that can evoke what Juliet Fall (2014) calls “a critical outrage grounded in empathy.” Comics can visualise how life with climate change is multi-temporal and capture still-possible climate futures that move beyond apocalyptic imaginaries. They also facilitate anti-essentialist first-person narratives that move towards ethical ‘desire-based’ research frameworks.

About the speaker

Dr Gemma Sou is a Senior Lecturer at the Humanitarian and Conflict Response Institute at the University of Manchester. She researches the everyday geographies of disasters; particularly how marginalised families experience and recover from disasters during their day-to-day lives. Her work principally focuses on South America and small island developing states in the Caribbean. She works with artists to translate her research in creative ways for different publics. This includes portraiture, photography and several comics that have been translated into five languages. Her comics have been downloaded more than 6000 times and used by educators in over 25 countries. For more information see www.gemmasou.com.

About this event series

Cultural Spaces for Democratic Participation, Political Expression and Shared Prosperity

This Director’s Seminars and Soundbites series explores how citizens mobilize new physical and digital channels of political participation, and what can be done to create and adapt these cultural spaces so as they make positive impact on democratic life in the 21st Century.

The Director's Seminars are an opportunity for audiences to get an in-depth theoretical perspective on sustainable and inclusive prosperity. These Seminars are given by academics who are pushing for new ways of thinking and new ways of researching society's grand challenges.

For more events in this series visit the series page ►