Transformative Climate Media for Urban Futures: Imagination, Interaction, Impact

International Symposium: 24-25th January 2023

Brandenburgisches Zentrum für Medienwissenschaften (ZeM), Hermann-Elflein-Straße 18, 14467 Potsdam

How can audiovisual media and digital spaces help cities and regions reduce their greenhouse gas emissions and adapt to the new realities of climate change – in other words, make sustainable local futures imaginable, negotiable, and desirable?

This symposium takes an operative perspective on audiovisual media that are used in transformative processes like urban planning, citizen participation, disaster management, and others. We use the term transformative climate media to encompass a wide range of media forms and genres that help create shared visions of sustainable local futures and facilitate discussions about how to get there: from scientific visualizations and animated explainers over decision-making tools, games, and XR simulations to documentaries and fictional films. We want to particularly discuss their potential to evoke interactions, create collective images and ideas, and facilitate negotiations about socio-ecological futures. Thus, the focus lies less on knowledge transfer and more on aspects such as meaning-making, narrativity, aesthetics, co-design, urban media and knowledge beyond the ‘smart city’ paradigm.

The symposium aims to initiate a lasting exchange between various actors interested in urban climate media and to establish a transdisciplinary research field of the highest practical relevance. While there has long been a broad academic debate about different strategies of climate communication and their impact on specific target groups and individuals, more systemic approaches and impact strategies as well as the operative use of media forms in transformative processes have often been neglected. And while climate communication research mostly focuses on unidirectional aspects (e.g. framing, target group targeting and corresponding media effects), only a few studies and projects so far emphasize the potential of (not only urban) climate media to motivate interactions, to evoke collective images and imaginations or to foster negotiation processes about societal futures.

The focus on cities is for two reasons: first, cities are already responsible for about 80 percent of global energy consumption and over 70 percent of CO2 emissions – and at the same time they’re highly vulnerable to the impacts of climate change. Second, cities are focal points, seismographs, and sites of negotiation and contest around social futures, which makes them impactful beyond their borders in a political, cultural and metabolic sense.

The program is spread over two half days and consists of presentations by invited speakers, project presentations invited via an open call, as well as structured discussion rounds and informal opportunities for exchange.


DAY 1 – 24th January

TUESDAY 24th January / Australia: 24/25th January

All times in CET
CST (Central USA): 06:00-11:00 (am); AEDT (Australia): 23:00-04:00

13:00-13:15: Introduction

13:15-13:40: Project Presentation

  • Nadine Kuhla von Bergmann (Creative Climate Cities, Germany): Why is the process more important than the product? Driving urban transformation processes by fostering tacit-knowledge experiences

13:40-13:50: Coffee Break

13:50-15:10: Discussion: Adding Perspectives, Pluralizing Discourses

  • Melissa Ingaruca (University of Helsinki, Finland): Tapping into other species sensorial worlds to imagine multispecies cities: from posthuman narratives to sensorial hacking
  • Catalina Ortiz (University College London, United Kingdom): Cultivating Urban Storytellers: A Radical Co-Creation to Enact Cognitive Justice for/in Self-Built Neighbourhoods

15:10-15:35: Project Presentation

  • Eleni-Ira Panourgia (Film University Babelsberg, Germany): Listening to Climate Change

15:35-16:05: Break

16:05-17:25: Discussion: Engaging Audiences

  • Ilan Chabay (RIFS Potsdam, Germany & Arizona State University, USA): tba
  • Imanuel Schipper (Theatre Academy/Uniarts Helsinki, Finland & HafenCity University Hamburg, Germany): Beyond understanding: How to stage the climate crisis
  • Tobias Conradi (HSLU Lucerne, Switzerland): Climate Awareness in Interactive Documentaries? Information, Experience and Action in Interactive Reality Narratives

17:25-17:35: Coffee Break

17:35-18:00: Project Presentation

  • Bernd Hezel & Tobias Gralke (Climate Media Factory & Film University Babelsberg, Germany): LOCALISED

DAY 2 – 25th January

WEDNESDAY 25 January

All times in CET
CST (Central USA): 02:00-06:30 (am); AEDT (Australia): 19:00-23:30

09:00-10:20: Discussion: Intervening in Public Space

  • Sarah Barns (Sidney, Australia): Enchanting Places: Navigating and creating alternate media ecologies through place-based storytelling
  • Myriel Milicevic (FH Potsdam, Germany): Climate Community Streetplay

10:20-10:30: Coffee Break

10:30-10:55: Project Presentation

  • Maren Schuster (University of Halle, Germany): Stadtklima Halle

10:55-12:05: Discussion: Imagining Urban Futures

  • Moritz Maikämper (ARL Hannover, Germany) & Steffen Krämer (University of Konstanz, Germany): (How) Can Science Fiction Help Us to Transform Our Cities?
  • Wytske Versteeg (Utrecht, Netherlands): Imaginable, desirable, negotiable? Futuring interventions, imaginative logics and fruitful interaction

12:05-12:35: Break

12:35-13:00: Project Presentation

  • Björn Stockleben (Film University Babelsberg, Germany): oKat-SIM

13:00-13:30: Closing Discussion



The symposium will take place at:

  • Brandenburgisches Zentrum für Medienwissenschaften (ZeM), Hermann-Elflein-Straße 18, 14467 Potsdam

We have a limited number of seats available. Please register by indicating:

  • name
  • affiliation
  • professional background
  • days of attendance

and writing an email to: urbanclimatemedia(at)