The challenge

The City of Glasgow in Scotland wants to engage citizens with environmental challenges – such as climate change and loss of biodiversity – and social justice. They were looking for an accessible, inspiring process that would enhance social cohesion.

The innovative project

A project called the Hidden Environmental Histories of the River Clyde was started to uncover how industrialisation and imperialism shaped the river and the city of Glasgow. Through events, social media and an online story map, they helped local people reconnect with the river’s heritage, share powerful stories linked to the river and city, and began conversations about how to improve the city.

The story map is a way to discuss complex subjects, including Empire and Imperialism, Industrialisation and present-day climate change in ways that are inclusive and inclusive of the broadest number of city residents. In the future, anyone could use the story map to explore past, present and future climatic and environmental influences on the River Clyde.

“The impact of sea levels, climate change and sustainability etc. are aspects that I am looking forward to exploring in the classroom. Pupils’ attitudes are so important in shaping future outcomes after all!”

— Afton Fotheringham, local primary school teacher

The partnership

The University of Glasgow mobilised a seed-funded partnership throughout Summer 2021, evolving from a small group of interdisciplinary academics, public sector organisations and civil society members to a network of over 130 individuals from the wider community and creative industry in and beyond Scotland. Members include Glasgow City Council, The David Livingstone Birthplace Trust, The Hunterian Museum, and a range of local community organisations and individuals.

Community members and creative practitioners contributed to a ‘show and tell’ event, story map and showcase at COP26, including singer-song writer Ainsley Hamill, Eco-eye/Open Aye, Clydeside historian and author Ian Johnston, researcher and archivist Ian McCracken, Eilidh Northbridge (Baker Street Productions), Rachel Boyd (Crocodile Media), Blue Leaf Nature (photographer) and the University of Strathclyde

The Impact

As Glasgow was the host city for the United Nations’ Climate Change Conference in 2021, the Hidden Environmental Histories of the River Clyde was showcased throughout COP26. And the project is supporting the curriculum in local primary schools through the School of Education Masters in education programme.

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