Environmental engagement student case study 2: Climate and Landscape in the Future
Aimee Wright, Falmouth University College, BA Hons. English with Media
Practical details of your visit
A small few of us signed up to take part in C.L.I.F (Climate and Landscape in the Future), a project run by Exeter University’s geography department. Planning to span disciplines and engaging with local villages and towns, the projects aim is to explore and understand people’s perspective on such matters. Our role was to come on board, creatively and produce some work within this vein. Little did I know the thoughts it would unleash and the experiences I would become involved in.
Part of the project was a guided walk to get the creative juices flowing. It was a crispy autumnal day, ice on the floor with spring threatening its presence through the sunshine. All of us wellie laden and padded with outdoor gear hopped in to the Walk It Cornwall mini bus. We were on the way to the Lizard in Cornwall, the most southern tip of the U.K. We walked the coastal path for a few hours stopping to ponder the footsteps of time gone by, the unique geology, botany, plant invasions, and the severed physical connection with Africa. I thought I knew this path but suddenly instead of just oohing and aaahing at a pretty view I started to see beneath the physical familiarity and began to think.
How it enhanced your learning and/or how your university studies affected your visit experience
Following this walk we got together to workshop ideas and began to explore how and why we view the landscape as we do. Looking at work by DH Lawrence, who famously lived in Cornwall, and other writers we began to unpick notions of landscape, nature and Romanticism. It was at this point I began to understand the influence and importance of the Romantic period. Since then it has permeated many of the ideas explored in my third year. I am coming to terms with my pre-set, sentimental, Romantic ideas and given myself up to the fact that I am indeed a Post-Romantic subject. It is everywhere! It started me thinking about Climate Change and where this sits in regards to the unavoidable infiltration of Romantic influence and I began to write a piece on this. Instead of just being passive in my views and opinions of Climate Change and seeing things in black and white I began to engage in the discourse and question all I assumed as given.
Kym Martindale my lecturer at UCF, on the back of our discussions and writing workshops, mentioned there was an opportunity to present at The Climate Change and Cultural Change conference in Bath. My initial reaction was of fear, this sounded incredibly daunting for a second year undergraduate, but somewhere from my face came the words “Yes, sounds exciting, count me in!” besides it was a chance to take our part of the C.L.I.F project on the road. I am so pleased I said that ‘yes’.
The conference gave me an opportunity to see working practitioners in action, something I think as an undergraduate I would usually miss out on. It has given me confidence in presenting my work and I felt really proud of us. Aside from deadlines and assessments it was really rewarding to work on something personal and then present it in an academic forum, it wasn’t about marks it was about doing out project justice, a completely different feeling! I’ve loved meeting all the new people involved and knowing they’re just as excited as you to talk about the issues and ideas involved, and more than happy to do so.
This project goes from strength to strength. I can’t wait to see what we’ll be involved with next (recently a rather pleasant geo-poetic lunch where we took our work to a new audience) and it is a relevant, challenging but welcome break from all those course deadlines. It has definitely affected the course my academic study has taken. There is a definite emphasis on eco-criticism and the place of literature in the climate change discourse. I have even chosen to base my dissertation on this, a subject I would never have thought I could tackle in my degree. It has also challenged and opened up my personal opinions and feelings about climate and landscape. The only thing that makes me sad is that not everyone gets to experience this, so if anyone is reading this and is still unsure about extra curricular projects of this kind put simply, JUST GO FOR IT!