Climate and Environmental Communication Science Association is honored to welcome renowned artist, environmental educator and communication specialist Elin Kelsey into Finland through the support of the Kone Foundation Lauttasaari Residency.

The aim of the joint project is to develop climate change communication in Finland, facilitate dialogue between Kelsey and researchers and artists who work with climate change in Finland, and to strengthen international co-operation on related fields.

The project offers a chance for mutual exchange, since Kelsey is highly interested about the recent Finnish developments in relation to climate change research and activism. Finnish eco-anxiety and education researcher Panu Pihkala, a board member of ILVIES, will serve as the main host for Kelsey. Pihkala and Kelsey met in the international project Existential Toolkit for Climate Justice Educators project, led by Kelsey and colleagues.

The first international webinar organized by ILVIES and Kelsey will take place 10th February 2022 at 14.00 Helsinki time (12 UK time) in Zoom and will focus on Climate communication and emotions. The event will feature a keynote by Kelsey and contributions by many prominent Finnish climate communicators and researchers. More information about the webinar is available here: please register here.

Ph.D. Elin Kelsey
Dr. Elin Kelsey is an internationally known expert in environmental communication, education, and advocacy. The character of her work and approach is captured in this quotation from her narrative account:
“I am a passionate leader of hopeful, solutions-focused environmental movements in an age of global cynicism, environmental despair and the collective, unprecedented challenges of living in a planetary emergency. As a writer, scholar, educator and speaker I focus on the reciprocal relationships between humans and the more than human world, particularly in relation to: resilience in social-ecological systems; the implications of the narrative of doom and gloom on emotions and agency; and, the need to dramatically re-focus the collective work of environmental scientists and social scientists on amplifying solutions in real world contexts.”

Dr. Kelsey has exceptionally wide experience of working with various partners in relation to these aims, as seen in her CV (attachment). She has designed campaigns for environmental education, communication, and advocacy. Her newest book for adults, Hope Matters: Why Changing the Way We Think Is Critical For Solving The Environmental Crisis will be published by Greystone Books in October 2020. Her influence can be seen in the hopeful, solutions-focus of her clients, including the Monterey Bay Aquarium, and other powerful institutions where she has served as a visiting fellow including the Rachel Carson Center for the Environment and Society, the Rockefeller Foundation, and Stanford University in the Graduate School of Education. Kelsey co-created #OceanOptimism, a twitter campaign to crowd-source marine conservation solutions which has reached more than 100 million shares since it launched in 2014.

As an Adjunct Faculty member of the University of Victoria School of Environmental Studies, she is consulting on the development of a solutions-oriented paradigm for educating environmental scientists and social scientists. Passionate about bringing science-based stories of hope and multi-species resilience to the public, Kelsey is a popular keynote speaker and media commentator. She regularly serves as an author/artist in residence, leading hopeful environmental workshops with kindergarten to university students across North America and around the world. She is a feature writer and podcast host for Hakai Magazine and a best-selling children's book author. Her newest book for children, A Last Goodbye was published in April 2020.

Special themes of the project between ILVIES and Kelsey: Hope, eco-anxiety, and self-care
A key dilemma in environmental communication and education is the perceived tension between realism and hope. On one hand, the facts related to the growing ecological crisis should be realistically faced, in order for societies and communities to be able to practice mitigation and adaptation on a scale that is required. On the other hand, the often grim news about ecological destruction may cause despair and paralysis, which is often roughly called “eco-anxiety”.

Dr. Kelsey has worked for decades with this very problem in academic research, public advocacy, design of communication practices, and in co-operation with artists. While Kelsey’s residency would enable many kinds of creative exchanges, themes related to eco-anxiety, self-care, and hope are emphasized. This is also one of the reasons why Kelsey is keen about the possibility to spend more time in Finland. She met with the leading Finnish expert on eco-anxiety, Dr. Panu Pihkala, in a high-level international conference on climate education, organized by the Rachel Carson Center in Munich (July 2020) with the lead of Kelsey and her colleagues. Pihkala, whose work on eco-anxiety and ecological emotions has raised much public discussion and research interest especially in Finland, has drawn from Kelsey’s work over the years. Kelsey is interested to learn more about the recent developments related to encountering eco-anxiety in various sectors of Finnish society, and especially education and communication. Thus, the residency period would enable mutual exchange, and would help to strengthen the connections between Finnish and the international network of researchers and practitioners that Kelsey and her colleagues are actively gathering.

It is our shared conviction that many elements in Finnish climate activism deserve increased international attention. While there are social conflicts also in Finland around climate issues, the topic is not as polarized as in many other countries. The climate-related school strike movement (Fridays4Future) is popular and many different kinds of people have joined in climate activism. In fields related to environmental education and communication, various scholars and experts are now exploring themes related to eco-anxiety and efficacy. The residency period enables Kelsey to get to know these developments better and provides opportunities to discuss them internationally.

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