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I see what you mean: visual and participatory climate change communication




Mullen, Karina C., author
Bruyere, Brett, advisor
Thompson, Jessica, committee member
Newman, Gregory, committee member
Champ, Joseph, committee member

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Empowering people to think critically and engage with climate change is a challenging goal: forcing science and facts on people is not enough to change values that support more sustainable behaviors (Kubeck, 2011; Maibach, Roser-Renouf, & Leiserowitz, 2009). This thesis approaches understanding how non-expert audiences are interested in learning about climate change with a new perspective: by listening to these audiences researchers can develop climate change outreach strategies that resonate with the constructs that each audience identifies with (Fosnot, 1996; Kubeck, 2011). Science communication methods that explore alternative avenues of creative engagement such as art may improve effectiveness (Leiserowitz, 2003; Nicholson-Cole, 2005). Connecting with people personally through simple yet clear images is one method that shows promise in the field of climate change communication (Roam, 2009). Translating complex climate science to digestible chunks of words and illustrations showing relationships between ideas (i.e. graphic recording), is one method to engage in climate change. Another method that incorporates art and experiential learning includes participatory approaches such as citizen science. By exploring in nature, citizen scientists build efficacy and connections to a given place. For example, using artistic repeat photography as data to compare historic vistas with those seen today can engage audiences in helping and track changes. National parks and wildlife refuges are places that people across the United States revere and view as trusted places to learn and explore. These places can provide powerful experiences through hands-on programs that incorporate artistic means of communicating complex science. By facilitating opportunities for visitors to explore and help collect scientific data through repeat photography, their observations and connections with these remarkable places may lead to a more open and accepting conversation about climate change.


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citizen science
climate change
graphic recording
national parks
repeat photography


Associated Publications