There is no doubt that education has a serious role to play in the ‘Politics of Persuasion’, as we seek to find new ways, not simply of helping people understand the climate crisis, but also the part that we, as concerned citizens, can play in changing behaviour and contributing to an overall solution for a healthier planet. However, just as education has its part to play in the climate change challenge; rational argument, creativity and humour are also effective tools of persuasion. Intelligent Disobedience can serve as one of the most effective and inspiring methods to bring about long lasting social change in the face of ‘hard and soft resistance’ by hardline climate sceptics and the all-too-often ‘profit first, people last’ corporate forces. Few people would refute the assertion that climate change is one of, if not the most important challenge facing our civilisation today.
Much of the current debate surrounds what might be the contributory causes of the problem, and what we as individuals can achieve in terms of a sustainable solution. In December 2019, EU leaders approved the goal of achieving an EU zero carbon target by 2050. The European Council stressed that climate change, pollution and the ever-increasing demand for natural resources are endangering the wellbeing and prospects of present and future generations. All around the world and in the media, we see examples of influential movements speaking up about environmental issues and protesting the climate change crisis; ranging from Greta Thunberg’s School Strikes movement, to Greenpeace & Friends of the Earth, and to more radical groups such as Extinction Rebellion. Hard reporting often results in a newsfeed dominated by negativity; this is in addition to wave after wave of fake news reports, pandemic updates, political disinformation and mortality stats. Thus, the objective of the FARCE project is to propose a new, ‘infotainment’ based approach by re-calibrating today’s negative news flow. Not making light of serious issues, but dealing with them in new thoughtful, humorous and educational contexts; might well be the key to making people wake up, take notice and act upon the crucial issues of the day such as the climate crisis, and engage with them in a more meaningful way; such is the power of satire.
As early as the 7th Century B.C. satirical works were already having profound effects on people. Satire typically exists to tackle subjects often unpleasant to confront head-on. Just as Call 2020 Round 1 KA2 – Cooperation for innovation and the exchange of good practices KA204 – Strategic Partnerships for adult education Form ID: KA204-D419E6E2 Deadline (Brussels Time) 2020-04-23 12:00:00 EN 2 / 200 changing habitual behaviour is not straightforward, the road of satire and comedy to address serious topics is littered with many victims. To introduce this new and radical approach to the educational setting requires considerable care and attention, and that challenging the overall hegemony, no matter how entertaining, is rarely without peril. Currently, and with potentially disastrous effects that might even rival climate change; societies the world over, seems more divided than ever. Both our real and virtual lives have become ever more split into seemingly tribal factions, with wounded combatants often retreating to their personal safe spaces, social media bubbles or political echo chambers.
We need to ask ourselves, our friends and even our perceived rivals: Why is this the case? Whether it’s scientific controversy, religious fundamentalism, climate change science or the origin of a global pandemic; the thought experiment can still be proposed: Which do you think would go further in getting people to listen to what you say; making them angry, or making them laugh? ‘Triggering’ is a relatively new phrase and describes the means by which some people certainly garner notoriety and attention. But in a learning context, humour is proven to ease tension, with the power to make audiences more receptive to what they are hearing; namely ‘the message’. Academic studies have shown humour can activate the brain’s dopamine reward system, stimulating goal-oriented motivation and long-term memory. This means that humour can in fact improve information retention in students of any age. A decades long research also indicates that humour can increase the strength of human connections, and that ‘non-aggressive, relevant, appropriate humour appears to be a helpful learning tool.’ (A Review of Humor in Educational Settings, 2011) To bring about change requires action, this should be on the collective and policy levels, but also on the individual level; where people’s habits of consumption need adjusting. FARCE can achieve this by; sharing pedagogical best practice for those working in formal, informal and non-formal adult educational settings; designing bespoke in service training for those working in formal, informal and non-formal educational settings and developing a Comedy Compendium of resources that will address a number of critical topics of the climate change challenge using satire and comedy to raise awareness, change behaviour and lighten our daily newsfeed!
November 2020 – November 2022
Creative Exchange Lead Partner For 8 EU Partner Countries