I had the great honor of collaborating with my friend Dr. Jean Polfus and her Sahtu Dene community collaborators on this publication. In it, we detail how art can be used as an inclusive, innovative research method for ecological research.
The article is available via open-access (for free) at the Ecology and Society website.
Meanwhile, here’s a sample of what you might find useful:
Excerpts from the article abstract (aka summary):
“Interdisciplinary approaches are necessary for exploring the complex research questions that stem from interdependence in social-ecological systems […] Identifying biocultural diversity requires a flexible, creative, and collaborative approach to research. We demonstrate how visual art can be used in combination with scientific and social science methods to examine the biocultural landscape of the Sahtú region of the Northwest Territories, Canada. Specifically, we focus on the intersection of Dene cultural diversity and caribou (Rangifer tarandus) intraspecific variation. We developed original illustrations, diagrams, and other visual aids to increase the effectiveness of communication, improve the organization of research results, and promote intellectual creativity […]Collaborative visual products, like posters that represented different caribou types, allowed Dene partners to more clearly articulate subtleties within caribou intraspecific variation that are manifest through distinct dialects, place-based relationships, and cultural practices. Our results point to the potential for visual art to be used to improve communication, participation, and knowledge production in interdisciplinary and cross-cultural research collaborations and to enhance the sustainable stewardship and protection of biodiversity.
Full citation: Polfus, J. L., D. Simmons, M. Neyelle, W. Bayha, F. Andrew, L. Andrew, B. G. Merkle, K. Rice, and M. Manseau. 2017. Creative convergence: exploring biocultural diversity through art. Ecology and Society 22(2): 4-17. https://doi.org/10.5751/ES-08711-220204
“Too much importance cannot be given to drawing, as it is not only an excellent device for securing close observation, but it is also a rapid method of making valuable notes.”
Inspired by Louis Agassiz, the Harvard Committee of Ten insisted that drawing be an essential part of science education at their institution. While this curricular edict was issued in 1894, it is a learning and research recommendation whose value I rediscover every time I work on the “Ecologically True Story of the Tortoise and the Hare.”
I spent much of the summer contributing to/planning two summer teaching institutes at the University of Wyoming, working on an art-as-science research manuscript with some great collaborators in Canada’s Northwest Territories, and crafting some illustrations of native bees for a science ed/outreach initiative based in North Carolina. And most recently, I helped facilitate UW’s first ever SciArt Symposium, which was a fascinating blend of both fields.
Through it all, I’ve been thinking about my genuine interest in being a catalyst and idea-sharer, helping others access the pleasure and productive aspects of art-science integration.
And so, this month’s newsletter focuses on some of the ideas and info I’ve encountered and shared this summer, with an eye toward connecting you to others’ ideas.
September Table of Contents
Sketching Tip: Sketching at zoos and aquariums (guest tip!)
Artful Science: Stardom – Women in science and the arts
Artful Classrooms: Drawing in the Classroom – Ideas in practice
Sketchbook Snapshot: Experimenting through repetition
News & Events:
Illustrated greeting cards for staying in touch this summer
University of Wyoming Natural History Class – student workshop