Art-Science collaborations as a solution to better address environmental problems


Klos, Z. Engaging the creative to better build science into water resource solutions. AGU Water Pop-up Talks, 2014

Psychological thought suggests that social engagement with an environmental problem requires 1) cognitive understanding of the problem, 2) emotional engagement with the problem, and 3) perceived efficacy that there is something we can do to solve the problem. Within the water sciences, we form problem-focused, cross-disciplinary teams to help address complex water resource problems, but often we only seek teammates from other disciplines within the realms of engineering and the natural/social sciences. Here I argue that this science-centric focus fails to fully solve these water resource problems, and often the science goes unheard because it is heavily cognitive and lacks the ability to effectively engage the audience through crucial social-psychological aspects of emotion and efficacy. To solve this, future cross-disciplinary collaborations that seek to include creative actors from the worlds of art, humanities, and design can begin to provide a much stronger overlap of the cognition, emotion, and efficacy needed to communicate the science, engage the audience, and create the solutions needed to solve or world’s most complex water resource problems. Disciplines across the arts, sciences, and engineering all bring unique strengths that, through collaboration, allow for uniquely creative modes of art-science overlap that can engage people through additions of emotion and efficacy that compliment the science and go beyond the traditional cognitive approach. I highlight examples of this art-science overlap in action and argue that water resource collaborations like these will be more likely to have their hydrologic science accepted and applied by those who decide on water resource solutions. For this Pop-up Talk session, I aim to share the details of this proposed framework in the context of my own research and the work of others. I hope to incite discussion regarding the utility and relevance of this framework as a future option for other water resource collaboratives working to solve hydrologic issues across the globe.


Klos, Z., O’Rourke, M. A heated discussion: Integrating the arts and humanities into climate change communication.

Scientists investigating changing climate are faced with the challenge of informing the public of the issue—and often altering public perception—while respecting the objectivity that binds the scientific community. We argue that one way of meeting this challenge is by integrating artistic perspectives into scientific communication. Specifically, this session seeks to highlight several examples of objective research in climate change science, which, through the help of multiple artistic forms, attempts to persuade the public to act upon this issue. How can art, when integrated into science, reach the audience in way that not only informs but also persuades them to act?  Examples will be supplied from multiple research, outreach, and curricular projects at the University of Idaho that seek to inform the (often skeptical) Idaho public about the impacts of climate change, and—through convincing visual, verbal, and written display—indirectly persuade the public to take action to mitigate these risks and better prepare for the uncertain future ahead. Within this session, we invite participants to bring examples for discussion regarding climate change or related public-interest issues from their work that both: 1) illustrate the power of art to highlight objective scientific issues, and 2) share experiences in which one’s objectivity has been challenged in ways that cannot be overcome by more science, e.g., the lure to advocate on behalf of a cause.

Conference Presentation


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