Climate Stories Collaborative

The Climate Stories Collaborative is an initiative designed to grow the capacity of faculty and students to use a variety of creative media to tell the stories of those who are already affected by, and/or taking action to address, climate change.


Indicators of climate change are everywhere, and affect us in numerous ways. The scientific consensus on human-driven climate change is “air-tight,” and climate disruption is part of the 21st century landscape whether we like it or not.

In fact, the rate at which our environment is changing is outpacing our ability to digest and communicate our experiences. However committed we may be to addressing the myriad food, water, health, security and justice issues surrounding climate change, we seem particularly inept at discussing these issues in compelling and persuasive ways.

How should we talk about the environmental transformations affecting communities around the world? What stories are we compelled to tell, and how can we use a variety of creative media to tell stories that motivate action? A growing intersection of faculty from across the College of Fine and Applied Arts are committed to meeting these questions head on, and to engaging with them deeply and productively.


The College of Fine and Applied Arts  is a perfect locus for exploring these questions:

  • The Departments of Sustainable Development and Sustainable Technology and the Built Environment contain faculty who study communities that are already affected by climate change as well as varied means to address it.
  • The Departments of Art and Theatre and Dance contain faculty skilled in tackling issues creatively, approaching them from novel and unpredictable directions.
  • The Department of Communication contains faculty who study meanings, processes, production, dissemination and effects of communicating such issues.
  • The Department of Applied Design contains faculty who consider sustainability as part of a holistic approach to design.
  • The Department of Military Science and Leadership faculty prepare students for a future in which they will be called upon with greater frequency to de-escalate conflicts around the globe brought on by climate change induced pressures.

Climate Stories Collaborative Participants:

Derek Davidson, Theatre and Dance (Facilitator)

Jacqui Ignatova, Sustainable Development

Laura England, Sustainable Development (Facilitator)

Martha Marking, Theatre and Dance

Bradley Archer, Theatre and Dance

Jeanne Mercer-Ballard, Applied Design

Brian Burke, Sustainable Development

Cody Miller, Sustainable Development

Jennie Carlisle, Art

Mark Nystrom, Art

Travis Donovan, Art   

Mimi Perreault, Communication

Jeremy Ferrell, Sustainable Technology & the Built Environment

Janice Pope, Communication

Kevin Gamble, Sustainable Technology & the Built Environment

IlaSahai Prouty, Associate Dean

Paul Gates, Communication

Sara Rich, Art

Brooke Hofsess, Art

Matt VanDyke, Communication

Lynette Holman, Communication

DJ Weatherford, Military Science and Leadership

Anatoli Ignatov, Sustainable Development

Rebecca Witter, Sustainable Development

"Far beyond the descriptive, prospective, retrospective/ reflective and prescriptive, climate communication is increasingly asked to be narrative, interpretative and even contemplative."

-- Susanne C. Moser,  2016

We thank Jeff Biggers, whose Climate Narrative Project and visit to our campus in February 2017 ignited this effort. Read an abbreviation of Biggers’ multimedia “Ecopolis Appalachia” theatre show performed Appalachian State University here.

Climate change can degrade our well-being in myriad ways, including:

  • Decreasing food security by disrupting agriculture and fisheries
  • Decreasing water security by altering availability of freshwater
  • Decreasing health by facilitating spread of diseases
  • Increasing vulnerability to natural disasters
  • Destabilizing economies around the world
  • Destabilizing international relations and thus our security

And there are troubling social justice dimensions of these impacts of climate change, because the already vulnerable portions of humanity—impoverished communities, hungry populations, indigenous peoples, and others who have little “voice” or power in these debates—are often the first to suffer, and experience the most severe harm.