UK oral history project documenting climate change, empowering Kentuckians

 How important is word of mouth when understanding climate change?

A new project, led by the Kentucky Climate Consortium (KYCC) research team at the University of Kentucky, is proving that oral histories can provide an intimate view of our shifting world.

KYCC acts as a catalyst for climate research and education across the Commonwealth by providing networking opportunities for Kentucky-based climate scholars.

Through her work with the consortium, Lauren Cagle, associate professor in the Department of Writing, Rhetoric, and Digital Studies and director of Environmental and Sustainability Studies in the UK College of Arts and Sciences, has received two grants from the Kentucky Oral History Commission (part of the Kentucky Historical Society). The funding supports the creation of an oral history collection titled, “Climate Research, Policy and Activism in Kentucky.”

“There are so many challenges that demand attention and energy from people, and climate is just one of them,” Cagle said. “I feel compelled to work on it in service of others and, frankly, of myself, since climate change impacts all of us.”

The team is partnering with the Louie B. Nunn Center for Oral History to arrange, conduct and archive interviews. The oral collection will be available online to members of the public, journalists, researchers and anyone who would like to learn about the diverse array of climate work that’s been happening in the Commonwealth for decades.

“Sharing these stories is so important, because they can — and do — inspire us to engage. I also believe so deeply in Kentuckians and how much we care about the environment,” Cagle explained. “These stories are a perfect rebuttal to false national stereotypes about Kentuckians not caring about the environment or not being scientifically, politically and socially engaged.”

Katherine Johnson

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