Livening up the environmental debate

Thursday 12 March 2009

A day of documentary film screenings and interactive workshops as part of the Festival of Social Science (6-15 March) organised by the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) to highlight how social science impacts on our daily lives will take place on Saturday 14 March.

'Don't Shout at the Telly, Change What's on it!', will allow to participate in a series of lively discussions and debates on, how documentary film makers ply their trade to influence our views, and the challenges facing activists in the "Noughties". It will also include the North East premiere of a challenging new documentary Flush It! which examines issues surrounding the aspiration for Western levels of water provision and sanitation for developing countries.

In addition, for younger participants there will be an ESRC-sponsored documentary workshop where youngsters will be given the chance to work both behind and in front of the camera to produce opinion pieces based on the themes of development, sustainability and the environment, which will be put on the web.

"We want to stimulate people to think more critically about issues surrounding the environment, sustainability and development," says organiser Dr Caspar Hewett. "There is a tendency for a lot of preaching in these areas, which can ultimately be counterproductive. We want to expose the audience to a range of views, have people join in the discussion and ask awkward questions so that they can make up their own mind on these issues, rather than simply being lectured at." The education charity WORLDwrite is a partner in this event.

For further information contact 

ESRC Press Office:

Notes for editors 

  1. The event, which will take place at the Bedson Teaching Centre at Newcastle University on Saturday 14 March, is being staged as part of a series of public discussions, workshops and courses that has been running for more than ten years under the title The Great Debate. 
  2. The Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) is the UK's largest funding agency for research and postgraduate training relating to social and economic issues. It supports independent, high quality research which impacts on business, the public sector and the third sector. The ESRC's planned total expenditure in 2008/09 is £203 million.  At any one time the ESRC supports over 4,000 researchers and postgraduate students in academic institutions and research policy institutes.
  3. The Great Debate was recognised by United Nations University Institute of Advanced Studies in 2008 as a Regional Centre of Expertise in Education for Sustainable Development (RCE) project.
  4. The Great Debate is part of RCE North East, a network of education organisations convened around projects developing and delivering Education for Sustainable Development at the local level.
  5. WORLDwrite is a UK-based charity with a remit to develop and provide educational projects and programmes which promote international understanding. The charity encourages young people to critically examine the world and to understand and support their peers using film and new media technologies. WORLDwrite's documentaries have won numerous accolades, been screened across the globe, raised new levels of debate in schools and universities and been broadcast on digital channels. All the charity's films are available online and on DVD.