18 August 2011

Call for Papers: Sustainability Tales, Fictions and Other Stories from the Movie Industry

A special issue of International Journal of Sustainable Development

Environmental issues have inspired good storytelling in both big and small budget movies during the last decades. Box office numbers account for millions of viewers for feature films such as An Inconvenient Truth, March of the Penguins, The 11 th Hour, The Age of Stupid, Erin Brockovich, etc., and smaller budget movies with great impact such as The Big Ask, featured at COP15 (2009 United Nations Climate Change Conference) in Copenhagen, or The Story of Stuff.

Many of these movies were viewed by millions of people in movie theatres, at home, etc., but they are also used in organised contexts such as educational settings, NGO’s environmental campaigns and even by politicians who engage in environmental sustainability debates. We argue that movies and other forms of popular culture need to be interrogated in regard to their role in communicating scientific issues to their audiences, their role in raising awareness of and initiating debates about sustainability issues, as well as their role in developing agency and collective action concerning the sustainability stories they tell. These intriguing issues are relevant to those engaged in movie script writing, storytelling and public engagement in sustainability conversations.

This special issue seeks contributions aimed at exploring the role of movies in conversations about sustainability, but also at unveiling and critically discussing what narratives are framing the sustainability discourses told by the movies’ stories.

Examples of questions that could be addressed include but are not limited to:
  • What are the implicit sustainability narratives behind the sustainability tales told by the movies?
  • What is the intentionality of media choices in portraying sustainability ideas in movies, including responsibility and other sustainability principles (imagery, soundtrack, etc.)?
  • How are futures (including utopias and dystopias) represented and discussed in sustainability movies?
  • What is the role of sustainability movies in forming public opinions and perceptions about the issues they portray?
  • What are the social, cultural and psychological conditions through which the public engage with and attach meaning to representations of sustainability issues in movies?
  • What are the roles of movies in developing agency and responsibility towards environmental issues?
  • What is the importance of people and institutions involved in the movie-making process (e.g. producers, directors, narrators, actors) in forming opinions about and fostering engagement with sustainability issues?
  • What are the effects of movie genre (e.g. science-fiction, documentary, “docudrama”, cartoons, drama) on the public’s engagement with a movie’s message?
Important Dates
Submission of abstract (500 words): 30 October, 2011
Notification of acceptance: 15 November, 2011
Full papers due: 15 February, 2012
Peer review results: 30 May, 2012
Final paper due: 15 July, 2012

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