Artist-Scientist Collaborations: Maximising Impact of Climate Research and Increasing Public Engagement

By Rachel Jacobs, Candice Howarth and Paul Coulton.

Published by The International Journal of Climate Change: Impacts and Responses

Format Price
Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

Scientists are under increasing pressure to communicate their findings effectively to decision-makers and undertake public engagement activities. Research councils require researchers to demonstrate the Pathways to Impact of their funding and within the Research Excellence Framework to demonstrate an “effect on, change or benefit to the economy, society, culture, public policy or services, health, the environment or quality of life, beyond academia” (Stern 2014, 43). However, scientists are often ill-equipped or may be restricted by resource and capacity to effectively engage in activities that can ensure the broad dissemination and uptake of their findings. Similarly, adoption of the “information deficit approach” where more information is assumed to lead to better understanding, means the evidence-base on climate change can be abundant yet inaccessible and misaligned with the needs of different audiences. Cross-research collaboration and partnerships with artists could enable knowledge exchange and sharing of experiences to facilitate this. Processes through which scientists engage with the arts provide a unique opportunity to engage with different audiences in meaningful ways to enable scientific evidence on climate change to become salient and relevant, providing more potential to inform decision-making and practices. This commentary explores the science-arts relationship through an analysis of three case studies. “The Prediction Machine,” “A Conversation between Trees,” and “Cold Sun.” We discuss insights that can be gained from these art-science collaborations on climate change. In particular, we explore how these collaborations can support scientists to further enhance salience to climate change and co-produce resilient solutions at different scales, to maximise dissemination of research.

Keywords: Science-Arts Collaboration, Climate Change, Communication, Public Engagement

International Journal of Climate Change: Impacts and Responses, Volume 9, Issue 3, pp.1-9. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 725.099KB).

Rachel Jacobs

Research Fellow in Creative Approaches to HCI, Horizon Digital Economy Research Institute, University of Nottingham, Nottingham, Nottinghamshire, UK

Candice Howarth

Senior Lecturer in Sustainability and Climate Communication, University of Surrey, Guilford, Surrey, UK

Paul Coulton

Professor of Speculative and Game Design, Lancaster Institute for the Contemporary Arts, Lancaster University, Bailrigg, Lancaster, UK


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