Objective: Understanding of ecological issues to be increased
Outcome: Understanding of ecological issues is increased
Measure: Understanding of ecological issues increased
By understanding of ecological issues, we mean the comprehension an individual has about environmental issues and the impact on their immediate community and the world.
Full description and underpinning theory
This outcome is about how cultural activities can contribute to an increased understanding of ecological and environmental issues. By ecological issues we mean the harmful effects of human activity on the natural environment which have implications for human health, biodiversity, and the earth’s ability to sustain life. An understanding of ecological issues is important to address environmental issues and promote action to protect the environment and address issues such as climate change.
Theory underpinning this outcome
In order to address many of the current ecological issues, a significant public investment is required. Any investment requires widespread public support which is dependent on public understanding of issues (Curtis, Reid and Ballard, 2012). A contributing factor in environmental decline is problems in providing information to people which may persuade them of the need to change to more ecologically sustainable behaviour. (Curtis, 2011). Savva, Trimis and Zachariou (2004) suggest that a reason that arts activities are so effective in raising ecological awareness is their ability to engage participants emotions and provoke empathy which they argue is essential to encouraging awareness. Arts activities have been found to increase understanding due to their ability to articulate complex information, engage emotions as well a creating a “celebratory atmosphere” in which complex information about urgent ecological issues can be disseminated (Curtis, Reid and Ballard, 2012)
Cultural activities that are centred on local traditional and cultural knowledge have been shown to result in a greater understanding of environmental issues. For Example, young people who engaged with art and cultural activities of an Indigenous American tribe were prompted to think about ecological issues such as “sustainable land use, conservation, recycling, slowing global climate change” (Bequette, 2007).
Interdisciplinary approaches that incorporate arts activities together environmental education have been shown to be effective in building understanding of ecological issues (Song, 2012) by enabling a more “socially relevant and personally engaged learning context” (Paek, 2018).
Evidence that this outcome occurs
Young children in the US learnt about the ecological changes through a basket weaving activity with a First Nations artist. The children learnt about the artist’s use of ecological knowledge when collecting materials and how the loss of wetlands have led to the scarcity of materials (Bequette, 2007).
Activities and processes contributing to this outcome
Including ecological public art into young people’s environmental education is effective by making it ‘direct, positive and broad in scope’ (Song, 2008., p19). It is particularly effective as engagement mirrors the ‘natural learning process of inquiry, contemplation, innovation, action and evaluation, while allowing children to self-direct and apply their own creative ideas’ (Song, 2008., p19).
Arts-based participatory activities in non-commercial spaces can be effective in raising greater awareness, understanding and thinking about ecological issues and encourage participants to consider their role as ecological citizens who are connected to an environment that transcends the state. One 10-day exhibition engaged participants to a number of interactive activities based on food with participants reporting greater thought to ethical consumption and food production. Two key factors were identified in the projects’ impacts: the facilitation of sensory experiences and the creation of space where participants could engage, relate differently or in unusual manners to food (Roe and Buser, 2016).
Understanding of ecological issues has increased
Bequette, J. (2007). Traditional Arts Knowledge, Traditional Ecological Lore: The Intersection of Art Education and Environmental Education. Studies in Art Education, 48(4): 360-374.
Curtis, D., Reid, N., & Ballard, G. (2012). Communicating Ecology Through Art What Scientists Think. Ecology and Society, 17(2): 3.
Curtis, D. J. (2011) Using the Arts to Raise Awareness and Communicate Environmental Information in the Extension Context. Journal of agricultural education and extension. 17(2): 181-194
Paek, K. (2018). Creative engagement on ecological issues: Studio work experience in a context of interdisciplinary learning. Creativity Studies, 11(1), 41-55.
Roe, E., & Buser, M. (2016). Becoming ecological citizens: Connecting people through performance art, food matter and practices. Cultural geographies, 23(4), 581-598.
Savva, A., Trimis, E., & Zachariou, A. (2004). Exploring the links between visual arts and environmental education: Experiences of teachers participating in an in-service training programme. The International Journal of Art & Design Education, 23(3): 246-255.
Song, Y. I. K. (2008). Exploring connections between environmental education and ecological public art. Childhood Education, 85(1), 13-19.
Song, Y. (2012). Crossroads of public art, nature and environmental education. Environmental Education Research, 18(6): 797-813.