Director: Professor Joe Smith
Prior to becoming Director of the Society on 1 May 2018, Joe was Professor of Environment and Society and head of geography at the Open University. His academic work was focused on environmental communication, history, policy and politics. Joe put together numerous seminars for environment specialists and senior media decision-makers, mostly from the BBC, from the mid-1990s onwards. He also advised on over 30 hours of BBC broadcasting.
Joe recently led two AHRC funded research projects. Earth in Vision explored 60 years of broadcasting about environmental issues. Along with a body of academic papers and 30 publicly available interviews with leading presenters, producers and cinematographers, the project generated three interactive media-rich e-books. Stories of Change saw a team of 12 researchers from five universities, and twice as many cultural and business partners, collaborate on new approaches to public engagement with debates about decarbonising the UK’s energy system. Alongside the academic papers and interviews the team have generated a very wide body of new creative material, including museum exhibits, a play for voices, digital storytelling, folk song, animation, poetry, photography and animation.
Joe was co-founder (with Dr. Renata Tyszczuk, Sheffield School of Architecture) of the Culture and Climate Change group. The most recent strand of this work focused on climate change scenarios, and has included the commissioning of a series of artist residencies. Joe’s teaching at the Open University was mostly for interdisciplinary environmental courses, working closely with the natural sciences, design and technology. Joe holds a BA in Social and Political Sciences and a PhD in Geography from Corpus Christi College, Cambridge. He is also a Director of Smith of Derby Ltd., a 160-year-old public clock making company that continues to design and make new commissions all over the world, and looks after 4,500 sites across the UK.