The Tempo Innovation Session at AGU

Tempo at AGU

The Tempo Innovation at the AGU (American Geophysical Union) meeting in Chicago presents a collaboration between musicians and physical and social scientists that will include live musical performances, presentations, and panel discussions.  Beginning from the social science research into risk perception, and interweaving music and discussion, the session will explore how our emotional reaction to risk can impede action on climate change, and how music can be used to change the emotional climate about climate change.

The Northpark University orchestra, conducted by Tom Zelle (Professor of Music at Northpark), and the New Earth Ensemble Singers, conducted by Kirsten Hedegard (Assistant Professor of Music at Loyola University Chicago), will perform new music composed by award-winning choral composer, Shawn Kirchner, and Emmy-award-winning composer Jonathan Beard and lyricist Minita Gandhi. Beard and Kirchner have been working with the scientists in the Tempo project to understand the psychological framework within which the public is making decisions about climate change. They have composed music that aims to evoke hope for the future and  pride in being part of a community that is working together to combat climate change.

Interspersed with the music will be short presentations and panel discussions on how the science can work with the music. Panelists will include Paul Slovic (University of Oregon and author of The Perception of Risk), Makiko Hirata (Colburn Conservatory of Music and Stanford University), Sarah Dryhurst (Cambridge University and University College London), Ryan Ward (Caltech), and Emiliano Rodriguez-Neusch (Pacifico, Argentina). The last panel will ask the composers and conductors to discuss the role of musicians in addressing the climate crisis.


Tempo Innovation poster


What is Tempo?

The Tempo Project ( brings together climate scientists and engineers, social scientists, and musicians to explore the ways in which music can be used to change the emotional climate about climate change. The Dr. Lucy Jones Center for Science and Society, in collaboration with Pacífico (Argentina) and with support from the U.S.-Japan Foundation, created Tempo to bring the scientific and artistic communities together to explore ways to create music to inspire action.