post seven: Lots of little problems, one big issue.

Issue mapping 

Beginning with mapping in week 3, I was given a glimpse into the tangled web of stakeholders involved in climate change. It allowed me to see the breadth of the issue and provided a basis for narrowing my search. But it was in the collaborative expansion of these early maps that rich insights were gained.


Co-mapping is a great way to open your mind.

Specifically, the student I was working with had an enviable knowledge of the environmental repercussions of climate change, where my focus had been on the psychological and social implications of inaction and the dominant denialist attitude.

Deepening my understanding of the physical manifestations of climate change and working on deconstructing the science behind it provided impetus to delve even further into my analysis of the social/psychological aspects of the issue. When the science is so clear and so palpable it becomes obvious that there’s a disconnect when it comes to the general public.

Unravelling these issues and revealing disconnects is made 10x easier when you have another mind to bounce ideas around with.

Revised stakeholder map

Revised Week 5 Stakeholders map, created by Rachel Ellis and Megan Wong (2016).

In our revised stakeholder map, we broke our initial maps down with more detail which was informed by our respective research. In being more specific we hoped that major players would emerge, helping us to locate the problems that contribute most significantly to the larger issue of climate change.

In identifying stakeholders by name, we were able to discuss specific examples of their involvement in the issue and the portrayal (or lack of it) within the media. It became the unlikely instigator of a really interesting series of conversations related to our own vein of research and our mutual feeling of disillusionment with regards to the current national (and global) political landscape.

Polemic Map

Polemic map created by Rachel Ellis and Megan Wong (2016).

The polemic mapping exercise was by far the most interesting that I’ve done so far as it involved the use of specific, subjective examples connected and separated on the basis of their emotional underpinnings. It brought together all of the previous exercises that we’ve done and grounded them in a really simple but informative way.

For our issue specifically, we found this exercise quite difficult – primarily because pitting stakeholders against one another is very black-and-white. Ignoring the grey area made it difficult to define the emotional parameters of the polemics. We realised that each stakeholder group listed is made up of individuals that don’t necessarily share the same values/views/emotions.

In the end, this meant that our mapping relied on blanketing groups as either ‘good’ or ‘bad’, which is superficial but served our purpose. In hindsight, we could have explored in more depth the controversies and tension within each stakeholder/issue, rather than trying to find an opposing group.

In drawing connections between groups and emotions, it became increasingly obvious that climate change is characterised by a sense of confusion, frustration and fear. This was consistent no matter what side of the fence people sat on. This finding sits comfortably alongside the emotions revealed in my primary and secondary research tasks.


Working in collaboration with a student investigating the same topic helped me to affirm things that I’d already concluded about the issue, but more importantly, held a light to the facets of climate change that I’d overlooked or undermined.

Having someone to work with meant that we were able to move much more quickly and in greater detail. Combining our own experiences, research and knowledge into one map opened up the space for discussion and new insights.

Specifically, my co-mapper and I were focussed on two different (and opposing) aspects of climate change. While I was focused on the negative and circuitous side of climate change denial and dominant attitudes, they had been investigating the physical effects of global warming. My theories were grounded in their structured research, providing a great balance between what is happening and what is happening and what can be done.

In more narrow terms;

  • Human behaviour needs to change to reverse (or halt) climate change
  • Human behaviour is complex and linked intrinsically with social/cultural/religious/political values. It is steeped in emotion.
  • Emotion is a powerful tool to influence behaviour – this can be good or bad.
  • Dominant attitudes of confusion, fear and frustration are not good motivators for positive change.

TL;DR  – climate change needs behaviour change on a small and large scale. Therefore positive action relies on finding a way to encourage behaviour change.


Header Image: 

Ozaslan, M. 2014, Step, Saatchi Art, viewed 22nd September 2016, <>