Exhibition Opening: Continuity and Change in High Places

Date & Time

Monday, 12 September 2016
17:00 to 19:30


Liu Institute for Global Issues, Lobby Gallery

Registration Closed / Past Event


Environmental change researcher and photographer, PSI scholar Graham McDowell launches his breathtaking exhibition of photos from the planet's "high places", such as mountains and the Arctic.

The opening soirée will feature a short talk about the exhibition by the artist Graham McDowell, who is a PhD Candidate in Resources, Environment, and Sustainability, and a new member of UBC's Public Scholars Initiative. Photographs will hang from 1 September to 30 November 2016.

Picturing High Places in the Anthropocene: Continuity and Change in High Mountains and the Arctic


High places––mountains and the Arctic––are home to some of the planet's most distinctive cultures, unique ecosystems, and compelling landscapes; they are also among the most environmentally sensitive areas on the planet. This sensitivity, and its attendant social and ecological implications, is a timely concern now that the planet has entered the Anthropocene, a period when human activities are driving rapid, global-scale changes in the biosphere. However, while scholarly work on the Anthropocene is of growing interest, engagement with the topic to date has been primarily theoretical. In this exhibition environmental change researcher Graham McDowell draws together photographs from his work in high places (e.g. Greenland, the Himalayas, and the Canadian Arctic) to help ground-truth our understanding of this new period in Earth’s history. His photographs reveal the multitude of ways in which places, people, and ecosystems in high mountains and the Arctic experience and respond to environmental change, drawing attention to the tension between profound change and often underappreciated occurrences of socio-ecological continuity. His exhibition aims to provoke more meaningful and productive discussions about how the Anthropocene intersects with concerns related to sustainability, social justice, and human security, within and beyond high places. 

Photographer Bio:

Graham McDowell is an environmental change researcher working in high mountain and Arctic regions. His research is focused on vulnerability, adaptation, and transformation with a particular emphasis on the development of governance strategies that promote human well-being and ecological resilience in the context of a changing cryosphere. Graham has led projects in the Nepal Himalaya, Rocky Mountains, Greenland, and the Canadian Arctic as well as numerous global-scale assessments of environmental change in cold regions. As a photographer, he believes that compelling images from the frontlines of environmental change provide a strong complement to text-based communication approaches. He is also motivated by the challenge of obtaining compelling images in demanding situations, where factors such as cold, altitude, and cross-cultural differences require high levels of tact and resourcefulness in addition to photographic competence. He has been actively involved in the use of photography-based science communication methods for several years, with photos appearing in numerous popular and academic outlets including Vice, CBC News, and Nature Climate Change. Graham is currently a PhD student, Vanier Scholar, Liu Scholar, and Public Scholar at the University of British Columbia, where he is affiliated with the Institute for Resources, Environment and Sustainability (IRES). Prior to beginning his doctoral studies, he obtained an MSc in Environmental Change and Management at the University of Oxford and an Honours degree in Geography at McGill University. For more information about Graham’s background and research please see: grahammcdowellresearch.com