Marking Change

This project’s primary focus was to raise schoolchildren’s awareness of climate change, while exploring the potential of film-based narratives to expand their understanding beyond the scientific or technical facts that tend to predominate discourse on climate change. 

Additionally, testimonials were provided by University of Plymouth staff from a range of disciplines to discuss how their own discipline is addressing issues of climate change and by doing so present possible opportunities for the schoolchildren to consider for their future. Simultaneously, Master of Architecture and MA Architectural Design students were challenged to think how they might make accessible to another audience concepts intrinsic to the contemporary practice of architecture.

Professor Robert Brown led this trans-disciplinary collaboration which united the creative capacity of University of Plymouth Master of Architecture and MA Architectural Design students, the knowledge of an educational charity (Millfields Inspired) and University staff research to collaboratively contribute to primary school children’s learning through the production of short films exploring climate change. 

Part of a long-term strategy to contribute to the betterment and enhanced resilience of the wider community, this project focused on Stonehouse in Plymouth, Devon’s most economic and social challenge neighbourhood (and the site of the university students’ Design Studio project work in the 2020-2021 academic year). This initiative engaged students in creatively-grounded and civically-minded practice that makes a difference, while preparing them for future employment.


Working with Millfields Inspired

“Millfields Inspired delivers the Widening Horizons programme to the Year 5 children in Stonehouse every year. Widening Horizons takes the children out of the classroom and into the workplace, giving them a taste of the world of work around them and within their city. Due to the pandemic, we had to look for new ways to reach the children, still engaging them in work and career type activities, while also encouraging them to meet and engage with different people. In Stonehouse, we are aware, through discussions with local headteachers that many of the children in this neighbourhood have suffered 2-3 years regression in their learning due to the lockdown periods when children were home-learning. As a result of this the heads were keen for us to zoom people into the classrooms to give the children interactions with real people from the outside world as they have been kept in their bubbles for months. The heads also asked that we consider formats that could be used for home-learning should future lockdowns occur. The University of Plymouth Architecture students took this on board fully. They developed a curriculum linked topic on climate change and delivered the learning via short, fun videos that the children can watch either in the classroom or at home. The teachers are delighted to have a suite of films that address curriculum topics, which are delivered by young students from our local university.”
Josanne Stewart, Director, Millfields Inspired

“Giving children the opportunity to learn about climate change at a young age is crucial. Creating the film was both enjoyable and a learning experience, especially when it came to animation design.”

J Earl, C Trigg and A Walkley

“While working on Marking Change, I learnt the challenge of distilling a complex issue into a single story. I saw how large and wide the range of issues that fall under climate change and how much more work is needed to make the discourse around the subject clearer and easier for younger audiences.”

N Hamilton

“Marking Change was an opportunity to explore new modes of communication with an audience we often overlook, children. By playfully exploring the relationships between construction, climate change and Stonehouse, the short film highlighted the embodied cost on the environment of vacant structures. Posing the question “Is it better to Remove or Reuse?” the film challenges primary school students to reconsider vacant, existing structures as an opportunity rather than an eyesore.”

I Tennant


"We are at the tipping point now. Architects build to secure the territory for human beings, but can this be an inclusive response to the urgent threat facing entire species?"

K Chong and B Tan

“Investing into climate change literacy to develop a culture of awareness, care and understanding of the consequential relationship between behaviour and the environment, helps the younger generation to adapt to new environmental conditions, reinforces a sense of empowerment, and creates employability relevant to climate emergency.

Developing the Marking Change project was a great opportunity of explaining climate change and raise interest to future career opportunities that help to tackle this phenomenon. The variety of topics covered in this project are intended to present a solution to different risks of climate emergency i.e. flood, food, housing, reconfiguration of buildings etc. These projects are structured on a problem-solution narrative, that reflect the nature of an architectural approach, and reveals the importance of creativity, holism, and localism.”

R Vasnic

Millfields Inspired

Millfields Inspired is a charity established and supported by the Millfields Trust, committed to creating sustainable change. The work we do enables students to explore new and challenging learning experiences. Our Widening Horizons programme allows children to understand the importance of education and how this can influence their life outside of the school.

 Find out more about Millfields Inspired 

Creative Associates

The Sustainable Earth Institute's Creative Associates projects aim to explore novel and innovative ways of communicating research and develop a portfolio of case studies of the different creative approaches possible.

Find out more about the initiatives

Image: Carey Marks/Creative Associates