Félix González-Torres, “Untitled,” 1994. Billboard. Installation in Dallas Texas for "Félix González-Torres Billboard Project" at Artpace San Antonio, TX. Jan.–Dec. 2010. © The Félix González-Torres Foundation/Courtesy Andrea Rosen Gallery/photo by …

Félix González-Torres, “Untitled,” 1994. Billboard. Installation in Dallas Texas for “Félix González-Torres Billboard Project” at Artpace San Antonio, TX. Jan.–Dec. 2010. © The Félix González-Torres Foundation/Courtesy Andrea Rosen Gallery/photo by Harrison Evans photography.

We often hear that features of climate change “as an issue” make it particularly hard for individuals to mobilize around—that it is distant, abstract, and uncertain. This begs the question: might the issue be understood differently? If so, what are the specific obstacles to such a collective reframing?

Until November 2020, Becoming an Issue will conduct conversations to learn what Americans think acting on climate change means in practice. The goal is to learn more about how elections succeed and fail in reshaping publicly recognized lines of action.

The 2020 general election occasioned high-profile efforts to redefine the practical significance of climate change by identifying it with a proposed set of policies of the federal government—a “Green New Deal.” We now have a chance to better understand the effects of these efforts. Becoming an Issue makes use of the framework established by the Social Life of Climate Change, a research effort launched at NYU’s Institute for Public Knowledge in 2018. The SLCC established a rich source of data on understandings of climate action on the part of individuals working across a variety of related fields and industries. Our interviews will allow us to capture the effects of the electoral process in granular detail, as changes in the views of Americans positioned throughout the social structure.