PDW 01: Taking Sides: Activism, Knowledge Production and Education in the Climate Crisis

Itziar Castelló
University of Surrey, United Kingdom
Marianna Fotaki
University of Warwick, United Kingdom
Lauren McCarthy
Royal Holloway, University of London, United Kingdom
Daniel Nyberg
The University of Newcastle, Australia

Call for Applications


, University of Exeter, United Kingdom
, The University of Newcastle, Australia
, WU – Vienna University of Economics and Business, Austria
, Montpellier Business School, France
, University of Portsmouth, United Kingdom
, Newcastle University, United Kingdom
, Utrecht University, The Netherlands
, Audencia Business School, France
, Cass Business School, United Kingdom
, University of Sydney, Australia


This cross-theme pre-Colloquium Development Workshop (PDW) brings together participants from sub-theme 02: [SWG] “Contesting Hegemonies in Organizing Social Responsibilities”; “sub-theme 35: On Doing Work That Matters and Leading Meaningful Lives in Academia”; sub-theme 36: “Organizing for Climate Change: The Politics of Mitigation, Adaptation, and Suffering”, the OS4future group and others in order to channel our energies into the biggest challenge facing ‘organizing for a sustainable future’: climate breakdown.
We are on the track towards 3–5°C warming this century (WMO, 2018; IPPC, 2018), which scientists suggest is incompatible with human civilization (World Bank, 2010; Steffen et al., 2015). The impact of climate change is already felt around the globe, with the increase of extreme weather events, including flooding, fires, storms and cyclones, and heat waves (IPCC, 2018). The present and future impacts of climate change are exacerbated by fossil fuel supported think tanks, politicians and newspapers seeding doubt about the existence or/and severity of climate change (Oreskes & Convway, 2010). As such, climate change is a politically polarizing issue (McCright & Dunlap, 2011).) and central in what is articulated as the era of ‘post-truth’ (Foroughi et al., 2019). Climate change has long been the subject of smears and slurs. The ceaseless work of anti-environmental lobbyists and campaigners seek to undermine factual evidence by disseminating notions of scientific ambiguity and uncertainty while challenging the authority and impartiality of the scientists themselves.
This polarization on ‘truth’ has led to attack on science in general as well as individual scientists (Grubb, 2018), continuing a trend where academic voices are replaced by think tanks and consultants (Rich, 2005). But public perceptions of climate change are influenced by the stance of political leaders (Poberezhskaya, 2015; Kousser &Trenter, 2018).
Considering these trends of questioning climate change science, producing ‘alternative facts’ and undermining academic production of knowledge, this PDW aim to mobilize academics in support of urgent action on climate change and the role of universities in producing knowledge and incorporate it in the education systems (Straume, 2019) so it is able to impact society. The seriousness and urgency of the challenge suggest that we, as academics, have to take sides.
Any form of academic activism is problematic to align with an academic career. Especially, for early career researchers and PhDs with pressures to publish in high-ranked (often mainstream) journals and on topics favouring the status-quo (Mingers & Willmott, 2013). This PDW 01 seeks to (i) develop and share knowledge and strategies for different forms of academic activism, and( ii) creating a supportive network for scholars taking sides. The aim is to develop research projects and activities addressing the climate emergency and the associated challenge of academic knowledge production. We will create a space to reflect about how knowledge can be impactful: what theories, which research methods and what academic venues can facilitate the dissemination and impact of our knowledge.



The PDW will start with a brief introduction to the background and aims of the event, as well as to the organisers and facilitators.
Part 1 [2 hours]: Academic activism, outside in
In this session we discuss current theories, methods and strategies used by climate and environmental activists that we might share, adopt and utilise within the Academy in our knowledge production and education roles. Panellists (Yousra Rahmouni Elidrissi; Itziar Castello; Vanessa Bowden; André Spicer) will share their experiences before we break into smaller roundtables to discuss with all PDW participants.
Part 2 [2 hours]: Academic activism, inside out
In this session we discuss forms of academic activism from developing social policy to embodied engagement. Panellists (Helen Etchanchu; Giuseppe Delmestri; Hamid Foroughi; Steffen Böhm; Yuliya Shymko, Chris Wright) will share their experiences before we break into smaller roundtables to discuss with all PDW participants.


Please submit – via the EGOS website – by May 15, 2020 (extended deadline) a single document of application (.doc, .docx or .pdf file) that includes the following information:

  • A short letter explaining why you want to participate in this PDW and describing briefly your experience of academic activism

  • A 1-page summary of a proposed or current project with implication for environmental or/and social concerns



  • Foroughi, H., Gabriel, Y., & Fotaki, M. (2019): “Leadership in a post-truth era: A new narrative disorder?” Leadership, 15 (2), 135–151.
  • Grubb, M. (2018): “We’re climate researchers and our work was turned into fake news.” The Conversation, January 25, 2018, https://theconversation.com/were-climate-researchers-and-our-work-was-turned-into-fake-news-89999
  • IPCC (2018): Global Warming of 1.5°C. An IPCC Special Report on the impacts of global warming of 1.5 °c above pre-industrial levels and related global greenhouse gas emission pathways, in the context of strengthening the global response to the threat of climate change, sustainable development, and efforts to eradicate poverty. Geneva: Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, https://www.ipcc.ch/sr15/
  • Kousser, T., & Tranter, B. (2018): “The influence of political leaders on climate change attitudes.” Global Environmental Change, 50, 100–109.
  • McCright, A.M., & Dunlap, R.E. (2011): “The politicization of climate change and polarization in the American public's views of global warming, 2001–2010.” The Sociological Quarterly, 52 (2), 155–194.
  • Oreskes, N., & Conway, E.M. (2010): Merchants of Doubt: How a Handful of Scientists Obscured the Truth on Issues from Tobacco Smoke to Global Warming. New York: Bloomsbury Press.
  • Poberezhskaya, M. (2015): “Media coverage of climate change in Russia: Governmental bias and climate silence.” Public Understanding of Science, 24 (1), 96–111.
  • Mingers, J., & Willmott, H. (2013): “Taylorizing business school research: On the ‘one best way’ performative effects of journal ranking lists.” Human Relations, 66 (8), 1051–1073.
  • Rich, A. (2005): Think Tanks, Public Policy, and the Politics of Expertise. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press.Steffen, W., et al. (2015): “Planetary boundaries: Guiding human development on a changing planet.” Science, 347 (6223), https://science.sciencemag.org/content/347/6223/1259855
  • Straume, I.S (2019): “What may we hope for? Education in times of climate change.” Constellations, 1–13, https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/epdf/10.1111/1467-8675.12445
  • The World Bank (2012): New Report Examines Risks of 4 Degree Hotter World by End of Century, November 18, 2012, https://www.worldbank.org/en/news/press-release/2012/11/18/new-report-examines-risks-of-degree-hotter-world-by-end-of-century
  • World Meteorological Organization (2018): WMO climate statement: past 4 years warmest on record, November 29, 2018, https://public.wmo.int/en/media/press-release/wmo-climate-statement-past-4-years-warmest-record
Itziar Castelló is Senior Lecturer at Surrey Business School, University of Surrey, UK, where she is part of the Center for Digital Economies. Her research looks into the micro-foundations organizations and fields, with a focus on the role of the digital economy in the transformation of business and society relations. Itziar’s research appeared in journals like the ‘Academy of Management Journal’, ‘Journal of Management Studies’, ‘Research Policy’, ‘Business & Society’, ‘Journal of Business Ethics’, and ‘Corporate Governance’. She is co-editor of a special issue for the ‘Journal of Business Ethics’ on CSR and digital economies, and she is associate editor of ‘Business & Society’.
Marianna Fotaki is Professor of Business Ethics at Warwick Business School, UK. At present, she is a senior editor for ‘Organization Studies’, and co-directs pro bono an online think tank Centre for Health and the Public Interest a charity that aims to disseminate research informing the public and policy makers (http://chpi.org.uk). Marianna has published over 70 articles, book chapters and books on gender, inequalities, and the marketization of public services.
Lauren McCarthy is a Lecturer in Strategy and Sustainability at Royal Holloway, University of London, UK. She researches corporate social responsibility, global value chains and gender inequalities, using feminist and institutional lenses. She has worked alongside international businesses and NGOs, notably championing the use of participatory visual methodologies. Lauren has published in ‘Business Ethics Quarterly’, ‘Business & Society’, ‘Organization Studies’, ‘Business Ethics: A European Review’, and ‘Gender, Work & Organizatio’”. She is co-editor of “Gender Equality and Responsible Business: Expanding CSR Horizons” (with Kate Grosser and Maureen Kilgour, Routledge, 2016).
Daniel Nyberg is Professor of Management at Newcastle University Business School, Australia. His research focuses on political activities in and by organizations. He is pursuing this interest in projects on how corporations respond to climate change, the politics of ‘fracking’, and corporate influence on democracy.