Supporting Climate Dialogue in Agricultural Communities: Artistic Strategies for Engagement

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Cook, Vivian M.
Major Professor
Haddad, Mônica
Committee Member
Drinkwater, Jennifer
Bain, Carmen
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In the midst of a global climate crisis that is already severely affecting agricultural communities, addressing climate change is urgent in places such as Iowa and the U.S. Midwest. Many agricultural practices contribute to climate change, but can also play a critical role in climate solutions. Residents in Midwestern agricultural communities (including farmers, landowners, researchers, organizers, and, as this project demonstrates, artists) must be key players in these solutions. Research shows that a critical and often overlooked step in addressing climate change is climate dialogue. And research has also shown that effective facilitation of climate dialogue in agricultural communities should highlight values, diverse perspectives, and personal experiences. Artistic engagement methods are especially apt at incorporating these elements into public dialogue. Within this context, thirteen interviews were conducted with stakeholders who have used arts and storytelling strategies to talk about climate change and agriculture in Iowa. The purpose of these interviews is to reveal how artistic resources and strategies can be leveraged to facilitate climate dialogue in Iowa and Midwestern farming communities, to amplify the work that the interviewees have already done to this end, and to highlight recommendations for how similar strategies can be applied in communities across the region. The long-term objective of this project is to contribute to increased climate dialogue – and, consequently, agency in climate action – in Midwestern farming communities. These interviews are now being published through The EcoTheatre Lab as a fourteen-episode podcast series titled, The Art of Climate Dialogue: Stories from Iowa. They will be shared widely through organizations and online platforms that target farmer and artist audiences in the Midwest. The podcast episodes can be found, along with information about all interviewees, on The EcoTheatre Lab’s website: This project is funded by both a North Central Region Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education Program Graduate Student Grant, which is supported by the USDA’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture, and a Johnson Center for Land Stewardship Policy Emerging Leader Award.