OEG Live: Climate Change, Film Narrative, OER, and Education Futures

Join us May 4 for our pilot season of OEG Live webcast show featuring an open conversation with Judith Sebesta (@JudithSebesta) sharing a new OER on Telling Stories to Save the World: Climate Change and Narrative Film and Bryan Alexander, author of Universities on Fire a new book on the future of education and climate change.

We hope to talk about what storytelling and film narratives tell us about our relationship to climate change. How is higher education facing this global challenge? How will it impact us? What is the potential for open education to be part of a response? The discussion format here is completely open.

When (in your local time): 2023-05-04T19:00:00Z

Watch live on YouTube (or later). No registration required. Viewers can use the chat to ask questions/send comments that can be brought right into the studio. Or reply below with your questions or ideas.

About Judith Sebesta

Judith is the founder and principal at Sebesta Education Consulting LLC, assisting higher education institutions, organizations, and agencies with innovation and transformation to support student success.

Judith has spent over 25 years in higher education as a faculty member, academic administrator, policymaker, analyst, researcher, and consultant. Judith also is proud to serve as the President of the Executive Council for the Community College Consortium for OER. Among other projects, she currently is working on a national survey on AI in higher education and an openly-licensed textbook, Telling Stories to Save the World: Climate Change in Narrative Film. Learn more…

"Telling Stories to Save the World explores the history and impact of the “Cli-Fi Film,” or Climate Fiction Film, a sub-genre of narrative cinema that depicts, on some level, the effects of climate change on the Earth and its inhabitants. The exploration begins with Soylent Green (1973) and ends with Don’t Look Up (2021) (for now).

Judith shared this brief intro to the new OER she will be sharing with us on the show.

About Bryan Alexander

Bryan Alexander is an award–winning, internationally known futurist, researcher, writer, speaker, consultant, and teacher, working in the field of higher education’s future.

He completed his English language and literature PhD at the University of Michigan in 1997, with a dissertation on doppelgangers in Romantic-era fiction and poetry.

In 2013 Bryan launched a business, Bryan Alexander Consulting, LLC. Through BAC he consults throughout higher education in the United States and abroad. Bryan is currently a senior scholar at Georgetown University and teaches graduate seminars in their Learning, Design, and Technology program.

Universities on Fire: Higher Education in the Age of Climate Crisis (2023) is my extended forecast of how academia might respond to – and be impacted by – the planetary crisis over the next 75 years. It builds on several years of research, some of which has appeared on this blog.

OEG Live is Live!

This is the launch of a new series of open discussions as OEG Live, follow them all here via our oeg-live tag. Look for more shows there.


I am looking forward to it, @cogdog, and appreciate the opportunity!

Alas won’t be able to attend live, but so glad this is the first OER Live topic! I’m super interested to build an open education community of practice toward more equitable and broadly participatory actions on climate change.

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We’d absolutely be glad to do this, Curt, and definitely open to ideas/suggestions (a few are percolating in the back room).

Always great to see you here.

Since this discussion is taking place on May the 4th (Star Wars Day) are you going to discuss climate change and JEDI (Justice, Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion)?

All joking aside - JEDI is an ongoing issue in the climate crisis, the entertainment industry, and higher ed. How have underrepresented groups been part of the conversation so far? How can we ensure that the climate crisis doesn’t increase existing inequities? How can OER and Open Educational Practices be part of the solution?

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Excellent questions for the day of “Fourthing” – a fortunate scheduling outcome, thanks Liz.


On a related note just came across the Whose Knowledge campaign:

noting the identified issue of Public Online Knowledge recommending a look at Wikipedia:

We’re piloting resources and methods for centering the knowledge and expertise of marginalized communities on the internet, starting with Wikipedia’s online knowledge repository. As one of the world’s most visited websites, Wikipedia is a good proxy for knowledge on the internet more broadly, and we know that Wikipedia is not representative of the knowledge of the world.

Much can be done individually and collectively by widening those participating gaps in Wikipedia authoring.

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Also, via @Enkerli in Mastodon (he seems to be everywhere, eh?) a Rebus Community open book on “Making Ripples: A Guidebook to Challenge Status Quo in OER Creation

Wow! Great find!
As someone whose knowledge is widely represented, I salute such initiatives to centre marginalized voices and promote diverse knowledges. In terms of Epistemic Justice, a key question remains:

Who decides what counts as knowledge worth learning?

… which emphasizes the “what”.

In many cases, it’s important to shift that question to “whose”, especially when we’re forced to associate knowledge with people. That might be where “intellectual property” can work within the set of shared values we allegedly hold together, in OE.

Well… Part of the reason I spread my sharing across diverse channels is that I try not to “overstay my welcome” in any of them. And part of the challenge there is that there are plenty of people who keep encouraging to share as much while a few people occasionally dislike it.

Another reason to spread is what I keep describing as the Social Butterfly Effect. As we share across networks, our actions work through broader settings. Sharing an Open Textbook about Epistemic Justice may eventually cause a butterfly to flap its wings, thousands of kilometers away.

And that’s a wrap, thanks Bryan and Judith for an exciting and far ranging conversation, we will try to grab all the links mentioned. The archive is available now at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BNc4rBt_Ey4

The most important one is to share Judith’s Climate Change OER, which was world premiered here on OEG Live!


Links Mentioned in Chat

(the full chat plays back with the recording on YouTube)

Future Trends Forum (Bryan Alexander) http://forum.futureofeducation.us/

The Age of Stupid (film, Wikipedia) https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Age_of_Stupid

Telling Stories to Save the World (Open Textbook, Judith Sebesta) https://pressbooks.pub/climatechangeandfilm/

Interstellar: Good Space Film, Bad Climate-Change Parable (The Atlantic)

Take Shelter (film, Wikipedia) https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Take_Shelter

CO2 Board Game (Board Game Geek, Travel back to the 70s to invest in green power plants and stop global warming) https://boardgamegeek.com/boardgame/72225/co

The Quiet Year (Build community after the collapse, map game) https://buriedwithoutceremony.com/the-quiet-year

Beasts of the Southern Wild (film, Wikipedia) https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Beasts_of_the_Southern_Wild

Ministry For the Future (online book club, Bryan Alexander) https://bryanalexander.org/tag/ministry/

Drawdown, the Book (Drawdown has become a seminal text on climate solutions, drawing on humanity’s collective wisdom about the practices and technologies that can begin to reverse the buildup of atmospheric carbon by mid-century.) https://drawdown.org/the-book See also more at Project Drawdown

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Thanks again @JudithSebesta for sharing your newly published Climate Change / Film Narrative OER – I hope community members here spend some time exploring it like I have been doing on my lunch break.

A few comments and then maybe a second one about particular films…

I forgot to ask during the discussion about the challenge of writing about and teaching with films since for open content you are limited to the trailers, which give some sense to the settings depicted. And you did well to make the fair use case for the low resolution poster images, where it might have been really desirable to illustrate the settings more directly. (Note- it looks like the clip for The Road is no longer available).

The categories of film were a great means to organize them (and I would have never thought of comedy as one, but it works). Maybe there are romance films too, I would not know :wink:

Nice as well to offer the downloadable badge at the end.

A small suggestion that I thought would be useful is perhaps appendix with a list of all films mentioned, as a reference, in their genres? Or even some means to allow readers to suggest or describe other examples (e.g. wiki style or en editable doc?)

And also maybe more links to say the movies references in Wikipedia-- I did find a Wikimedia Category for Climate Change Films and there are some ways to maybe to coordinate more identification via editing in Wikidata (which i am trying to get more adept).

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Also, on films, I find as a kid and young adult I was interested in the post-apocalyptic films-- and I had completely forgotten until seeing your mention of it the Mad Max series. It so sets the stage of a future affected by our choices now, but it’s not really central to the story, it sets the stage. I wonder still if oil/fuel becomes our limiting resource of water.

And I was glad to see The Road in the list, but I always thought its too easy to focus on the grimness and horror that Cormac Mcarthy’s story lays bare, but I always doubted that was his purpose to just tell a bleak future. To me I always thought of it as a love story of a father for his child, the ends to which they would go to keep that alive

I thought the film did a credible version of the story (others likely disagree) and I was impressed on watching the DVD extras (thats how old I am!) about how actor Viggo Mortensen method acted by living as his character in the (?? Pennsylvania??) film location and how both him and the young actor who played the boy were performing under very cold and wet conditions.

Oh, and while not strictly cli-fi I go back to well to my child hood fascination with the original Planet of the Apes enterprise, that the reveal at the end of the first movie, and the setting/plot for Beneath the Planet of the Apes suggests the bleak landscapes were the result of human actions.

I’d love more film discussion! I am just an amateur film fan.

What films do other see as having a setting or plot device that are influenced by a future of a climate different from our present? Dare I mention Dune?

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@cogdog, thank you so much for taking the time to explore my resource – and for providing these great comments on it! Yes, writing and teaching about film is indeed a challenge, since available “open” examples, as you mention, are limited. It’s also, for that matter, a challenge when studying theatre as well. If I were teaching a course using the text, I think it could be necessary to ask students to pay for access to some of the films in order to watch them in their entirety – but likely only a limited number in order to keep learning resource costs low, letting learners select an example of their choosing, say, for each Cli-Fi Film category to watch in entirety. But I would sure welcome thoughts by others here on how to overcome these hurdles! (Btw, I have no problem accessing the clip from The Road, either directly in the text or via the link included at the end of the chapter. If you have a moment, could you possibly DM me with a screenshot of what you are seeing in terms of an error message?).

Romance films: one could argue that The American President is a romance, but it is only tangentially a Cli-Fi Film, I think. As I say in the resource, it “is a rare (for a Cli-Fi Film) romantic comedy” [emphasis added]. But I suppose the genre of romance films doesn’t lend itself well to depicting climate change in any extensive, “hard-core,” realistic manner. :laughing: Can anybody else think of an example of one?

Your idea of an appendix at the end of all films mentioned is a great idea! I’ll get to work on that pronto – thanks. I did also think about more links to the film descriptions in Wikipedia – will consider adding those as well.

Worth noting and yet another reason to follow Bryan Alexander’s research and news on climate change- here is an example of Stony Brook University’s efforts as part of the New York Climate Exchange is breaking ground as a climate change(d) campus.