Discourses of Sustainability

NEWS! Registration now available for our September 2022 conference "Communicating Sustainability"

This Lab explores links between nature, environmental sustainability and linguistic (and cultural) diversity. Our aim is to generate dialogue around the impact of changes to the physical environment in Scotland and beyond in times of global climate change and the knock-on effects this may have on contemporary societies.

The Discourses of Sustainability Lab was established in July 2019. Since then, we have organised a variety of events and workshops  (see below) which have brought together academics from a broad range of disciplines as well as policy makers, practitioners and community members.

Building on these discussions and the collaborations we have established, on the 6th and 7th of September 2022, we will host a two-day event bringing together community groups, educationalists, policy-makers, researchers, professionals and all those with an interest in issues of sustainability to develop ways of working together going forward. 

Here are some of the questions we will explore:

  • What does ‘sustainability’ mean to you and people you work with?
  • How does your view of ‘sustainability’ inform your practice? 
  • Are your views and practices properly represented and respected in public policy, the media and education? 
  • What are your challenges and successes in discussing issues of ‘sustainability’ with other sectors, with different views and priorities?

Communicating Sustainability will take place across three international hubs: the University of Glasgow, Scotland; Goucher College in Baltimore, United States; and the Universidade Federal de Sergipe, Brazil. 

The event will offer participants the opportunity not only to discuss issues of sustainability with others from within their own sphere of activity, but to take part in conversations with community groups, educationalists, policy-makers, researchers and professionals from other sectors, to challenge and be challenged, and to develop an action plan that ensures the event is the beginning of a bigger discussion and greater collaboration. 

See our webpage for more details.


2022 Conference

The international conference "Communicating Sustainability" is being organised through the "Discourses of Sustainability" Lab in September 2022.

Please see the website here.

2021 Events

Language and Community Revitalisation in Two European Islands: Barra and Mallorca

Wed 22 September 2021, at 1.30pm

In this seminar activists from Barra in the Outer Hebrides of Scotland (Barra & Vatersay Area Forum) and the Mediterranean island of Mallorca (Orgull Llonguet and Melicotó) will discuss the role of language revitalisation efforts in promoting sustainability and development projects in island communities. There will be a brief presentation of the aims, strategies and activities of each island, followed by questions, discussion and contributions from attendees. 

Register here: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/language-and-community-revitalisation-in-two-european-islands-barra-and-tickets-170460961324

Jointly organised with the SMLC Language and Society Cluster 


Memory and Sustainability on the shore. The Mediterranean Sea in the Contemporary Spanish Novel 

Talk by Aina Vidal-Pérez,  Universitat Oberta de Catalunya

Wed 24 March 2021 at 3.30pm

Valencian writer Rafael Chirbes published En la orilla in 2013 (On the Edge in its English translation, released in 2016), a novel that digs into the mechanisms that led to the 2008 international financial crisis, aggravated especially in the Spanish State by the bursting of the real estate bubble. The novel succeeds in inscribing the entire recent history of Spain on the Mediterranean coast: first, the last decades of Francoism and the boom of land reclassification projects; then, the neoliberal brick-and-concrete feast that shaped imported coastal skylines at the end of the century; and finally, the landscapes of the crisis, with the dormant cranes over the half-built constructions. This paper analyses the environmental imagination of Chirbes’ Mediterranean, depicted not only as a territory that registers historical processes but as a scenario that embodies and mobilizes collective memory. In trying to raise cultural awareness regarding the contingency that structures the landscape, Chirbes claims for a Mediterranean space where the forgetting of the repressive past in the name of progress has gone hand in hand with the destruction of the territory. The paper’s primary interest is in the dialogue between the traditional notions of memory and space (Nora 1984-1992, Huyssen 2003) and the ecocritical and narratological concept of “narrative environment” (Puxan-Oliva 2018), which broadens the traditional “narrative space” by bringing out the environments as historically effective agents of narrative strategies. The paper uses Chirbes’ particular eco-sustainable narrative sensitivity of the Mediterranean as a “memory narrative environment”, a notion that delves into the under-studied essential entanglement between historical contingency, production of space, and narrative forms of remembrance. 


2020 Events

Sustainability, Diversity and the Pandemic: The "Discourses of Sustainability" Arts Lab theme, in collaboration with the SMLC SocioLang research cluster, is hosting a series of Zoom discussions on how the current pandemic is reframing our thinking around links between nature, environmental sustainability and diversity (linguistic, cultural, biological). Contact Bernie O'RourkeTom Bartlett or Guillem Colom-Montero.

Tourism, Economy and Language

When: Friday 26thJune 2020 11:00 - 12:00 on Zoom

Alasdair C. Whyte will talk about Tourism, economy and language in the Highlands and Islands in the age of coronavirus.


Overtourism and Tourismphobia

When: Friday 5th June 11:00 – 12:00 

Dr Guillem Colom-Montero, "Overtourism and Tourismphobia in the Catalan Mediterranean in the Age of Coronavirus"


2019 Events

Scoping Meeting for "Discourses of sustainability: Interconnections between language, society and the environment” theme

When: Monday 1st July 2019

Where: Gilmorehill Halls 217, followed by a networking lunch

Description: The aim of the proposed research theme is to build collaborations in the Arts and Humanities and Social Sciences and develop new collaborative pathways with scholars in the Natural Sciences and STEM. There have been significant changes to the linguistic ecologies of our contemporary societies as a result of globalisation, increased mobility and transnational networking. Even though there is robust evidence that linguistic sustainability is an important part of social cohesion and of economic value, the management of multilingualism, from public services to industry consumption or the media, remains poorly understood. Changes to the physical environment in times of global climate change can also have knock-on effects on the cultural and linguistic sustainability of our societies. We recognise the need to address the way in which social and material changes, including environmental issues, are mediated and affected through a range of language practices and the circulation, interconnections and potential disconnects between these. The research theme will situate discussions around language, society and the environment in the context of these broader debates around social cohesion, equality and sustainability.