Department of Politics, Languages & International Studies

Exploring energy in the past, present and future through stories of change

Mon Sep 19 17:20:00 BST 2016


A new windmill next to an old windmill (photo: Susanne Nilsson)

Old meets new (photo Susanne Nilsson CC BY-SA 2.0.


One of the first public events in the University’s 50th Anniversary programme took place at the Bath Royal Literary and Scientific Institution on Friday 2 September, organised and introduced by Professor Axel Goodbody, on behalf of Stories of Change, a three year research project funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council and led by Professor Joe Smith from the Open University.

Building future relationships

Opening with a presentation from Drs Bradon Smith (University of Bath and Open University), Renata Tyszczuk (University of Sheffield), David Llewellyn (University of South Wales) and Mel Rohse (University of Birmingham), the evening got underway with some fascinating highlights from the team’s work during the first two years of the project.

Members were shown how the Stories of Change team have successfully built relationships with communities in London, the West Midlands, and South Wales. The presentation took the audience through the project’s approach, from facilitated discussions about changing patterns of energy generation and consumption to recorded interviews, all of which will be made accessible to researchers and the general public on a dedicated web platform shortly.

These presentations were followed by an illustrated reading by the Scottish poet and artist Alec Finlay, entitled ‘A Primer for the Archaeology of Energy’. Exhibited at the Tate Modern and many other galleries, Finlay’s work exemplifies, in a unique way, the role which the arts can play in making energy visible in our everyday lives, and the impact of old and new forms of energy generation on people and the landscape.

Promoting debate on our energy use

The evening closed with a Reception hosted by the University’s Pro-Vice-Chancellor (Learning and Teaching), Professor Peter Lambert, who said: 'The University of Bath is delighted to be involved in the Stories of Change project. Although Bath is best known for its work in science, engineering, management and the social sciences, we also have a thriving community of humanities researchers. Participation in the Stories project is just one of the ways in which they are actively involved in regional and national networks and carrying out work of real social value.'

Professor Axel Goodbody went on to explain: ‘Energy consumption has increased 40-fold between 1800 and 2000. Today it is transforming the planet through climate change, which confronts us with difficult choices and decisions. The Stories of Change research project aims to inform and promote open democratic debate on our use of energy, by giving voice to marginalised actors to help them communicate their experiences and views. It is also giving us new insights into the potential of the arts to mobilise and empower citizens to play an active role in social change.’

The future of Stories of Change

For the remaining nine months of the project, the focus will be on writing up single and co-authored articles for journals and a book publication.

A special number of the journal Resilience is in preparation, and a computer game inviting players to make energy decisions and discover their consequences.

Further information

Find out more about the Stories of change: Energy in the past, present and future project.

You can contact Professor Axel Goodbody for enquiries.