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[Commlist] PhD Position: Analysis of Images and Videos on Climate Change

Thu Sep 10 09:52:16 GMT 2020

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 committed
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
(andrea.catellani /at/ [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
((andrea.catellani /at/ [2]).

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