Urban Social Dynamics and Sustainability in Film and Television

The Interactive Technologies Institute recently hosted a thought-provoking edition of ITI Talks, featuring two esteemed researchers who presented their groundbreaking work. The event took place on June 16, 2023, with Albert Acedo presenting remotely from Funchal and Ana Carolina Dias captivating the audience in Lisbon. Their talks shed light on diverse topics, encompassing urban social dynamics and the portrayal of sustainability in film and television. The presentations sparked stimulating discussions and opened up new avenues for exploration in their respective fields.

Unlocking the social nature of the city through operationalising place-based knowledge: Evidence from Lisbon

Albert Acedo (Funchal)

During his talk, Albert Acedo, a junior researcher at NOVA Information Management School, delved into the fascinating realm of urban social dynamics. Drawing from his extensive geoinformatics background and involvement in the MEMEX project, Acedo explored the concept of “place” as the geographical dimension within which people experience and perceive their cities. He emphasized that individuals engage with their urban surroundings through subjective human perception, influenced by experiences, meanings, social values, and environmental interactions.

While governments typically rely on census data and administrative boundaries to formulate policies and address societal challenges, Acedo highlighted the limitations of such approaches. These conventional methods often fail to capture the complexity of individuals’ daily lives and their connection to specific urban places. Consequently, the disconnect between citizens’ lifeworlds and administrative boundaries hampers governments’ understanding of and addressing pressing social, cultural, and human value-related issues like poverty, racism, and inequality.

Acedo underscored the need for a more nuanced and place-based understanding of cities. By operationalizing place-based knowledge, governments can effectively gather more accurate and meaningful data to tackle these societal challenges. His research in Lisbon served as compelling evidence that a place-based approach provides invaluable insights into the social fabric of a city, paving the way for more inclusive and contextually aware urban policies.

Sustainability in Films and TV: where are we going?

Ana Carolina Dias (Lisbon)

Ana Carolina Dias, a PhD student in Sustainability Science at the University of Lisbon and a distinguished filmmaker, illuminated the intersection between sustainability and the world of film and television. Recognizing the significant influence of these visual mediums in shaping society’s perceptions and values, she explored how sustainability has been portrayed in recent years and how it can be envisaged in the future.

She emphasized that sustainability is an urgent human issue. Yet, the lack of citizen engagement, low climate literacy, and a limited sense of urgency remain barriers to effective adaptation to climate change. Films and TV programs, with their ability to captivate audiences and convey powerful narratives, possess a unique opportunity to foster awareness and inspire action.

During her talk, Ana Carolina Dias presented her research findings, offering insights into how sustainability has been depicted in films and TV series. She showcased how these mediums have shaped societal views by reflecting on the past, commenting on the present, and envisioning possible futures. By examining this representation, she aimed to identify gaps, propose improvements, and explore innovative ways to incorporate sustainability themes into visual storytelling.

She also hinted at the potential for immersive artistic interventions centred around sustainability. Through her work, she aspires to stimulate dialogue and engagement, ultimately promoting a more sustainable future through the creative expression of film and television.

Following the talks, participants engaged in lively discussions during lunch, further exploring the themes presented and forging connections that will contribute to advancing research in the interactive technologies domain. The ITI Talks series continues to be a hallmark event, showcasing cutting-edge research and stimulating dialogue among experts and enthusiasts alike.