University of Nottingham

Spectacular environmentalisms: Celebrity and the mediation of environmental change

Project outline

The aim of this network was to explore and develop intellectual synergies among scholars, researchers and practitioners from different perspectives on the relationship between celebrity, the media and environment. The mediation of environmentalism, the spectacular power of celebrity and the effects of both on politics and practice are issues which demand to be understood from a number of perspectives. The project was particularly concerned with questioning the scale and form of power increasingly being granted to and claimed by celebrities in shaping environmental discourse.

Section of an interactive map of the celebrity recolonization of Africa by Dave Gilson (
Celebrity map of Africa


The network organised a series of events that enabled network members to develop critical dialogue between environmental media practitioners and academics.

Workshop 1: King's College, London

Date: 6th September 2010

A series of network members gave short 10 minute presentations which were followed by a much longer breakout set of discussions in the afternoon of that day. There were about 10 different people involved in the workshop through Skype/web presentations.


Network Meeting: Wildscreen Festival, Bristol

Date: 9th-17th October 2010

Members of the network attended the Wildscreen Festival, internationally acknowledged as the most influential and prestigious event of its kind in the world. Its aim is to celebrate, applaud and encourage excellence, and responsibility, in wildlife and environmental film-making - films which increase the global viewing public's understanding of the natural world, and the need to conserve it.


Conference Session: 'Capitalism, Environmentalism, Spectacle and the work of Natural History Film'

Location: Nature Inc Conference, The Hague
Date: 30th June-2nd July 2011

This panel reported some of the findings of an event ethnography conducted at the 'Wildscreen' festival of natural history film, a bi-annual event in Bristol, where the BBC operates the largest Natural History Production Unit in the world. The session explored the technologies, discursive registers and vocabularies, and some of the histories and alliances within and around the 2010 festival. In our exploration of the role of different kinds of spectacle, and strategies for audience involvement in such films, and their politics, we focused on the short prizewinning film 'Green' about the Indonesian rainforest, as yet undistributed through mainstream media but greeted with acclaim in numerous settings.

Workshop 2: King's College, London

Date: 7th-8th of July 2011
Members of the network gave short presentations on the themes of: 'star power', 'spectacular visualisations/representations', and 'spectacular communication forms/politics', considering the role of celebrity (in human and animal forms) and spectacle in environmental campaigning. The final part of the workshop was spent discussing future plans and outputs.


Work is underway on a special issue of the journal Celebrity Studies, and on web-resources for the network. The members of the network hope to continue the work completed by the project through future funding.

Project website:

Harrison Ford speaks at the launch of the Tiger Conversation Initiative at the National Zoo in Washington June 9, 2008. Photo: Reuters/Kevin Lamarque 

Award details

Duration: June 2010 - October 2011 

Principal Investigator:
Dr Michael Goodman

Higher Education Institution:
Department of Geography, King's College London

Related links


Landscape and Environment Programme

School of Geography
University Park
University of Nottingham
Nottingham, NG7 2RD

telephone: +44 (0) 115 84 66071