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09 February 2023

CASCADE INQUIRY launched with an evening imagining hopeful climate futures

King’s researchers, artists, students, and the wider community gathered in The Exchange, Bush House to explore the power of imagination and collective action in combatting climate change.

5 panellists in front of yellow-orange lighting and audience with a screen showing "Cascade Inquiry"
Panellists and audience in conversation. From left to right: Emily Kasriel, Frans Berkhout, Suzanne Hall, Mark Pelling and Anab Jain.

Last night, members from across the King’s community, including academics from the social sciences, public policy and sustainable technologies, as well as students, artists and activists attended the launch of CASCADE INQUIRY, the ambitious new initiative from Superflux imagining future worlds where positive climate action has been taken.

CASCADE INQUIRY is a reminder that other worlds are possible.

Anab Jain, co-founder and director of Superflux
Audience member listening to the discussion.
Audience member listening to the discussion.

With the support of King’s Culture, Superflux has been artist-in-residence at the Inigo Rooms since Autumn 2022, engaging with King’s climate researchers across fields; mapping entanglements between climate and war, wildfires, policy, economy, philosophy, strategy, literature and neuroscience.

To mark the public launch of the project - which will continue to foster collaboration between experts at King’s and the wider community, as well as build on Superflux’s distinctive speculative and experiential design approach - the evening saw interactive discussions surface questions, insights and possibilities from across the audience, capturing a variety of experiences and perspectives.

‘It has been a struggle to get our imaginations to affect any kinds of policy’ said Anab Jain, co-founder and director of Superflux, in an opening presentation, inviting the room to think about the powerful potential for individual agency and collective action in translating future uncertainty into positive present-day choices.

Following a presentation, a generative discussion led by Emily Kasriel, Head of Special Projects at the BBC World Service and Deep Listening pioneer, explored the opportunities ahead for positive collective action in affecting impactful change.

We know that, historically, great authors, playwrights, poets and painters have given us compelling visions of the future. Today, artists and cultural practitioners again have a critical role to play in envisioning desired futures in a safe climate. And we should be supporting them as they help us see our ways forward.

Frans Berkhout, Assistant Principal (King's Climate & Sustainability)

The wide-ranging discussion across the evening covered topics including dismantling colonial attitudes to imagining climate-positive futures, the different ways society might approach bringing young people’s voices and imaginations into the process of collective action, the power of collective remembrance, and the challenges surrounding affecting policy change. Mark Pelling, Professor of Risk and Disaster Reduction, University College London, asked the room ‘Who owns the right to speak about the future, to imagine the future? Who translates that into policy? ...There is work to be done on staking a claim on the future’. 

Panellists in conversation: Suzanne Hall speaking with Frans Berkhout.
Panellists in conversation: Suzanne Hall speaking with Frans Berkhout.

Data shouldn’t go by the way of imagination and storytelling… visual methods, participatory research, ensuring people’s lived experience is in the room when you are making the case for change.

Suzanne Hall, Qualitative Researcher and Director of Engagement at the Policy Institute, King’s College London

The CASCADE INQUIRY conversation also explored the ways art and storytelling can be used to empower individuals and promote agency, as well as help communities envisage their desired climate-positive future by shifting the focus from issue-based to action-based storytelling. 

The blending of collective action and creativity is increasingly understood as vital to our successful response to the climate emergency. King’s Culture has been proud to facilitate the important, ambitious and at times knotty conversations between Superflux’s extraordinary design and worldbuilding skills and our sector-leading scientific experts and policymakers. Through research and culture collaborations, we are growing a movement that forms a vital part of the university’s sustainability strategy to develop fairer, more positive climate futures.

Beatrice Pembroke, Executive Director of King’s Culture

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In this story

Frans Berkhout

Assistant Principal (King’s Climate & Sustainability)

Suzanne Hall

Director of Engagement

Emily Kasriel

Visiting Senior Research Fellow

Mark Pelling

Visiting Professor

Beatrice Pembroke

Executive Director, Culture