Future Calling

A digital creative learning project exploring young people’s thoughts and ideas around climate change and encouraging engagement ahead of the UN Climate Change Conference COP26, held in Glasgow in 2021.

“If you can read this then it’s not too late”

The year is 2050. We’ve failed to address the ecological and climate crises of the past. Lives are harder than we could have ever imagined. But humble hope exists in the hands of a small group of school pupils in 2020…if only we could get a message back to them to show them how…

With climate change becoming an increasingly urgent issue, it is vital that people of all ages can engage in the issues and share ideas about positive ways forward. This is why Eco Drama created ‘Future Calling’, a 4 week digital climate change and arts project specially for S1 & S2 pupils at Boclair Academy, which took place during May-June 2020 under lockdown conditions. Drawing from diverse forms including environmental education, storytelling, futurecasting and climate science, pupils had the opportunity to creatively develop their understanding, respect and care for the natural world, and created short media pieces which were shared as part of the COP26 UN Climate Change Conference held in Glasgow in 2021.

Here is the short compilation film Future Calling – A Message from 2050, combining all of the young people’s creative responses.

Future Calling was originally scheduled as a creative outdoor learning project on the grounds of Boclair Academy, which was to be Eco Drama’s first outdoor project with a secondary school, building on the foundations of Out to Play and tailoring delivery to engage 11-13 year olds. However, in light of the virus and school closures, the project was re-imagined and restructured as an online creative learning programme, and offered as a combination of pre-recorded videos, live audio, worksheets and solo/group activities, some of which were undertaken outdoors.

Children and young people have a huge amount to deal with, with recent reports of young people suffering from ‘climate anxiety’. Moreover, during 2020, there was covid related anxiety on top of this. As such there is a strong need for creative outlets to support young people to explore their thoughts and feelings on the climate emergency and to nurture and develop their creativity, confidence and emotional resilience.

Future Calling addresses the theme of climate change by telling the story of a future world in 2050, where humans have not made the necessary changes to avert climate destruction. Although initially presenting a dystopian future, the project engages and empowers young people to realise that they have the autonomy and power to create an alternative, and that change can be made now in 2020. By engaging imaginations and exploring ‘What if…’ the project inspired young people to re-imagine a future full of hope, possibility and greater environmental harmony.

A Message from 2050 – Dystopian Provocation

The following film is a provocation that participants watched at the beginning of the project. It was created in just a few hours with basic filming equipment as an example of an imagined future story which anyone could make easily. This resource was designed to encourage a response and set the scene for pupils to explore more about the climate crisis, and build towards creating their own alternative vision for the future that is hopeful and imaginative, with the guidance of Ben Mali, an artist and environmental educator.

Ben’s Future Calling Blog, ‘Conversations with the Future: Reflections on hope, change, and the power of the imagination’ contains some reflections that emerged through the process, along with some tools for speaking to young people about the uncertain future we face.

Decorative figure - oak leaf

Future Calling blog

Conversations with the Future: Reflections on Hope, Change, and the Power of the Imagination

Ben Mali Macfadyen is an artist, activist and community facilitator who has been part of the Eco Drama team since 2015. When he isn’t taking classes on imaginary adventures with Eco Drama, he teaches nature awareness, sustainable leadership, nurture, inclusion and creativity skills with diverse communities across Britain. He is committed to working alongside teachers and other community leaders whose commitment and skill is an endless source of inspiration.

To watch the full films created by each young person, please visit Eco Drama’s You Tube playlist channel Future Calling.

Read some pupils’ poetry: OUR WORLD – Poem by Connor Campbell, Rivers – Poem by Lewis Clark

If your school would like to participate in the Future Calling project or if you are a council looking to commission the project, please get in touch.

The Future Calling project made links across the secondary curriculum, including Global Studies (Geography), English, Sciences, Social Studies, Expressive Arts and Learning for Sustainability.

The Future Calling project was gratefully supported by Education Scotland’s Creative Curriculum Fund and the Glasgow Centre for Population Health.

Education Scotland logo
Glasgow Centre for Population Health logo
How did the project make you feel?

It made me feel like I need to try make a difference. It made me feel more interested about nature.

The project made me more aware of the world and that we can make a difference and if everyone does something small it would all add up to a nicer environment.

It made me think about climate change in a deeper perspective and think about what I could do to prevent it.

It made me feel slightly worried about the future but also very hopeful that we can make the world a better place.

It made me feel grateful for the world that I do have, and it also made me feel like we should be doing more to help our planet.

The project made me feel inspired to help make a change.

What did you like most about the project?

I liked talking about nature to my peers.

I liked the fact we all were able to say our thoughts and opinions and also use our creativity to make messages to 2050.

I liked doing the voice recording and trying to make a script for it I liked thinking about the different ways I can make a difference

I liked getting to interact and talk to each other virtually and getting to hear each other for the first time in a while.

I liked the creative tasks.

I liked the walking.

I liked getting outside into the woods and learning about nature.

I enjoyed the creative way it made me think.

It was fun getting involved and I especially liked making the animation and the live sessions.

I liked the project because it was interactive and got me outdoors.

I enjoyed the whole project and my family did as well. They liked helping come up with ideas and helping overall.

It lifted my spirits.

Has taking part in the project inspired you in any way?

I am going to try my best to make a change.

I now won’t be using plastic, if there’s anything I can do to help climate change, I’ll do it.

We go out on walks a lot, and it’s made me stop and realise how nice nature is.

I have always tried to do stuff around the house even if it’s just switching off lights but I feel that I do a lot more now.

This project has inspired me to engage more with the world around me.

It has changed the way I look at the world and I am making small changes to my lifestyle.

I am now taking decisions more carefully, I am not just thinking about me right now, I am thinking about me in the future and how my decisions might impact other people and the environment.

My final comment would just be to say that I think what Eco Drama is doing is really good – I think that it will inspire so many people to really care for our planet and the future attached to it.

I loved that the pupils had to enjoy the outdoors to think about happy memories etc to help them connect with nature even though it was delivered digitally. I feel we will never know the full impact that might have on some pupils. I loved that pupils had the opportunity to speak with Ben who was in the video, I think they enjoyed that and I loved that they could create what they wanted e.g. video, poem etc. I will certainly use the positive slant on the climate crisis in my classroom and incorporate nature much more.

I think they gained an understanding of the tipping point – the fact that they are the future and that it is theirs to protect and do something about it now. And that it is small changes, not big things out of our control. A positive slant on Climate change is what we all need and particularly during a pandemic.

Ruth Bone, Principal Teacher of Global Studies (Geography and RME)

I was really inspired by the session and by the videos, poetry and letters created by the learners. I think they have really connected with the topic and have relished the opportunity to think positively and with real motivation about climate action.

Katie Sheridan, PT Literacy