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Exploring Eco-anxiety Through Performance

The Global Sustainability Institute (GSI)'s Exploring Eco-anxiety Through Performance project, supported by ARU's participatory research fund, seeks to understand more about the feelings evoked by climate change, particularly eco-anxiety.

The research investigates how these feelings influence engagement with climate action, and what social functions are in place to support one another with such feelings.

The data collected through this research will be used to inform a piece of musical theatre exploring the themes of eco-anxiety and society’s response to it, as a valuable way to articulate this rising outcome of the climate crisis and particularly highlight its impact on young people.

Research aims

Project objectives

To inform the future development of a resonant and relevant piece of musical theatre to convey the prevalent themes uncovered through this research (subject to future funding).

Use of funding

Funding of £7,615 was awarded* for:

*£5,615 awarded from the ARU's Patient and Public Involvement and Engagement (PPIE) Fund, with an additional £2,000 from the Faculty of Science and Engineering.

  • Global Sustainability Institute, ARU
  • The Common Lot theatre company
  • Norwich Eco Hub
  • Norfolk and Waveney Mind
  • Climate Museum UK

In addition, a venue is being provided free of charge by Norwich Theatre Royal.

Paired interviews

Conversational interviews took place with participants in pairs. One participant in each pair was aged 18-30, with the other a friend and/or family member, identified as being a source of emotional support to one another.

They were asked to talk candidly about their emotional responses and related experiences towards climate change or ‘the state of the world’ more generally.

Performance workshop

The data collected through these interviews informed the activities of a three-day performing arts workshop at the end of July 2023, in Norwich. Excerpts of audio and/or text gathered through the interviews were used as prompts for exercises throughout the workshop.

Musical theatre

The data collected through the interviews and workshop was used by theatre-makers The Common Lot to develop a piece of musical theatre on the topic of eco-anxiety.

As well as the engagement outcomes, the work will be analysed for write-up as an academic publication, building on previous work of the team, such as: Robison, R., Van Bommel, M. and Rohse, M. (2022) 'Relationships between climate mitigation actions and mental health: a systematic review of the research landscape', Frontiers in Climate, 4.