PhD Position: Analysis of Images and Videos on Climate Change

PhD Position: Analysis of Images and Videos on Climate Change

PhD Position: Analysis of Images and Videos on Climate Change

Hiring Context

The Research Centre in Communication (part of the Institute for Language and

Communication, UClouvain, Belgium) has an opening for a fully funded

three-year PhD fellowship in video and images analysis. This opening is done

in the context of a pan-European interdisciplinary research project on

climate change communication analysis. You will work within a team of more

than 10 researchers and academics from Belgium, France and Norway. The

fellowship will start between 15 November 2020 and 15 January 2021 for 36

months. The offer is open until 30 September 2020, but candidates that suit

all requirements can be interviewed before this date. We specifically

encourage women to respond to this call for applications, as we are


to equality of opportunity. Due to the Covid-19 specific context,

face-to-face & teleworking conditions will depend on official conditions at

the start of the job.

Research Context

Climate change today is undoubtedly a challenge for humanity. The Special

IPCC 1,5 °C report highlighted the numerous dramatic consequences of climate

change; yet, the response of our societies has been slow, contradictory and

elusive. The humanities and social sciences are called on to make a crucial

contribution to the understanding of how humans approach and make sense of

climate change, in order to reduce the value-action gap, using innovative

forms of communication to identify entry-points for climate action.

This research project has the transformative aim to improve the scientific

understanding of why societies remain indifferent to the risks of climate

change, and to understand how multimodal devices and recommendations can

convert apathy into action. The project will focus on Belgium, France, and

Norway. The cooperation between specialists in linguistics, semiotics, law

and governance studies, anthropology and psycho-social analysis can

significantly improve the state of the art, by combining expertise on texts

and images as indications of sensemaking by individuals and cultures, and

expertise on social and psychological factors that influence behaviours and

attitudes. In Belgium, the research will be undertaken in collaboration with

some non-governmental organizations: (1) a cooperative which will receive

assistance transforming their communication strategy for calls to

action; and

(2) a network of organisations, which will contribute to a real-time

social-network analysis of a new communication strategy in 2020-2021.

One of the main tasks of the project is to increase knowledge on the visual

aspect of online discourses on climate change and climate change mitigation.

The analysis of the most "famous" (most seen, shared and commented on)

images and videos on climate change from YouTube, Instagram, Twitter and

Reddit and of the interaction between images and verbal texts will also aim

at improving our knowledge of the role of visual content in climate change


Job Description

On each platform, the most famous climate change images and videos will be

identified and collected. These images will be analysed with a semiotic

approach, which is useful for understanding the implicit potential

meaning of

images, including interactions with texts. The same approach will be applied

to a corpus of comments on this visual content, in order to analyse how real

viewers produce meaning in relation to images and videos. Intertextual

connections will also be examined. This analysis will allow for a comparison

between different countries and different platforms.

The aims of the research are the identification of patterns and tendencies

concerning the most influential images on climate change in the countries of

focus. We aim to 1) identify iconic, narrative and rhetorical multimodal

configurations in (dominantly) visual content concerning climate change, and

to 2) analyse the attitudes and discursive forms of commentary concerning

this content, whether in favour of or against climate mobilisation. For

example, how different forms of opposition to climate change mitigation

policies are expressed, in comments on the visual content but also through

recycling, use and manipulation of this content? How do climate

skepticism is

expressed and articulated through disagreement and conflict, in

particular in

relation to and through visual contents? This analysis will contribute

to the

understanding of how people interpret and manipulate these images, and

of how

images participate in creating meaning concerning climate change and climate

change mitigation practices. The global approach is inspired by the semiotic

tradition of analysis, taking into consideration also the theoretical and

methodological contributions of social semiotics and pragmatics.

On this basis, the PhD aims to offer advice on effective climate change

communication. A result of the research will be also a scientific support to

the production and test of prototypes of multimodal and innovative

communication devices on climate change for the partners, including for

example augmented and virtual reality. Devices and prototypes will be

produced by the project team with the support of MIIL (Media Innovation &

Intelligibility Lab, UCLouvain); they will be tested by the PhD student with

techniques that are made available by the Social Media Lab of UCLouvain, in

particular, eye-tracking, interviews, and user experience tests.

The PhD candidate will work mainly in Louvain-la-Neuve, Belgium, under the

supervision of Andrea Catellani (IL&C, UCLouvain) and Louise-Amélie Cougnon

(MiiL, UCLouvain). S/he will be affiliated with the Institute for Language

and Communication. Applicants from outside the EU are responsible for

obtaining the necessary visa or permits.

The candidate's activities will include the following:

- taking part in the doctoral training programme;

- working actively on a PhD thesis, with the aim of defending it by the end

of the three-year position;

- contributing actively to the global research project;

- reporting on the results of the PhD project in scientific articles and at

conferences, with the support of the supervisors.

Research Profile

A master's degree in Semiotics, Visual Studies, Communication, Information

and Communication Studies, Linguistics or any similar degree.

Excellent academic record and strong interest in visual and multimodal

analysis and on climate change communication analysis.

Fluency in French; good level of English (minimum B2); proficiency in Dutch

and/or Norwegian will be considered as an add-on.

Skills in semiotic analysis or willingness to acquire such skills.

Skills and familiarity with the analysis of social media corpora and images

or willingness to acquire such skills.

An experience in climate change or political discourse and images research

are an asset, but not a requirement.

Capacity to work both independently and as part of a team.

Application Procedure and Timetable

If you are interested in this position, please send to Prof. Andrea

Catellani [1]:

- a detailed CV in English or in French;

- a copy of Bachelor's and Master's diplomas;

- a transcript of records for Bachelor's and Master's degrees;

- a cover letter, describing, at least, your motivation and how your profile

responds to the offer;

- a sample piece of academic writing in English or French;

- the names and contact details of two academic referees.

Deadline for application: 30 September 2020

Shortlisted candidates will be invited for an interview (in Louvain-la-Neuve

or online) in October 2020.

Questions about this offer can be directed to Andrea Catellani

( [2]).

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