Climate Action Unit


The art of decision-making in the face of climate change - a UCL workshop at Hay Festival

14 June 2024

The UCL Climate Action Unit delivered six sold-out sessions of an immersive workshop experience built with the organisation Fast Familiar.

Visitors pass a colourful banner on a walkway at Hay Festival 2024

Between 29 May and 1 June 2024, the team from the UCL Climate Action Unit relocated from London to a giant, orange marquee at the heart of the Hay Festival in Wales to deliver a series of decision-making workshops for members of the public.

The storyline of the theatre-like event was described in Hay Festival's Green Newsletter by journalist Nicola Cutcher:

[During] the immersive two-hour workshops at the Festival, participants find themselves in a role-play; acting as advisors to a ski corporation. Participants must assess how to respond to the increasing snowmelt that is threatening its business model. Should it invest in manufacturing fake snow? Or try to diversify into other mountain leisure pursuits? Build a new resort elsewhere, higher up, with better snow cover?

It's not just about the decisions, it's about the process

The workshop, called 'The Art of Decision-Making in the Face of Climate Change' centres around an immersive theatre experience called Do What You Must. The experience is one of several co-created by the Climate Action Unit and Fast Familiar which demonstrate the power of having a supportive, scaffolding structure to make decisions within. 

Dan Barnard - a creative director at Fast Familiar - said one of their aims for building the workshop “was to invite people to grapple with the messy complexity of the decisions that corporations face in the context of climate change and to get a sense of the competing priorities that can make it difficult to act in the best interests of the planet."

Shows over seminars 

Immersive theatre experiences are a novel way to engage individuals in the challenge of addressing climate change.

"Whether we're assuming the role of a business adviser or playing a board game, these kinds of experiences engage our brains much more than passive activities like listening to a lecture," explained the CAU's Director.  "This is particularly powerful when players have the opportunity to dissect what happened after the simulation ends".

 to find out what participants can expect:

Photo highlights

View a selection of images from the UCL Climate Action Unit workshops at the 2024 Hay Festival