By Liane

Free coffee and snacks at Vivaldi’s Café (Union Court), on the first Wednesday of every month from 3:30 – 5:00 PM.

Well that got your attention, didn’t it?

A group of diverse PhD students are interested in overcoming disciplinary barriers when it comes to discussing climate change research here on campus – and they are providing free drinks and snacks to help facilitate the conversation.

Enter the ANU Climate Café.

Modelled after other dialogue events (e.g., Café Scientific), the monthly conversation forum is changing how we can communicate about climate change here in Canberra. At each event, a guest host presents an idea or topic which is then explored in smaller discussion groups whilst leisurely enjoying a nice drink or snack.

Put on in association with the ANU Climate Change Institute and the ANU Postgraduate and Research Student Association (PARSA), the café aims to overcome disciplinary barriers and create a supportive synergistic community amongst ANU climate change researchers.

I attended the inaugural event hosted by Michael Raupach, Director of the ANU Climate Change Institute, in October. He introduced his topic, ‘Climate change and evolving narratives’, with a brief overview while providing signposts for the following discussions:

What are narratives?
Are they important in the climate change discourse?
Can narratives, for individuals of for societies, change?

At our table there was an earth scientist (me), a biologist, an artist, a philosopher and a public servant. We spent the majority of our time discussing the definition of narrative. Other groups focused on other aspects of the topic including ethics of narratives, how to change narratives, narratives of individuals vs. those for societies.

I thought that the inaugural event was interesting. Active discussion was encouraged, as was inclusivity and mutual respect. ANU Climate Café offers an innovative way to interact with a diverse group of researchers in the community outside of the standard passive seminar format.

Upcoming topics include ‘Global Warming framed as a hyperobject’ hosted by Liz Boulton from the Fenner School in November (RSVP by Oct 29, i.e. TODAY); as well as ‘The Artist’s Way’ with host Carolyn Young from the School of Art with host in December (RSVP by Nov 26).

The café returns in February 2015 with a further 12 more sessions, speakers and discussion leaders to be determined; suggestions are more than welcome.

If you are considering attending a session, be sure to RSVPs (via ANU Campus Life System) the Wednesday prior to the event to make sure that there are enough snacks.

You can find the ANU Climate Cafe here.