The Role of Art in Addressing the Ecological Crisis

Authors: Erin Call*, Utah Valley University
Topics: Human-Environment Geography, Cultural Ecology, Coupled Human and Natural Systems
Keywords: Ecological crisis, aesthetics, art, creativity, Anthropocene, cultural institutions, philosophy, cultural ecology, biocentrism, environmental communication, engaging public, visual communication, affect
Session Type: Paper
Day: 4/6/2019
Start / End Time: 3:05 PM / 4:45 PM
Room: Taylor, Marriott, Mezzanine Level
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


This paper explores the role of art in addressing current environmental issues and ecological crises. Geography is a useful lens through which to understand the intersections between emotion, art, and science. Art is a powerful discipline to engage the public about environmental problems as it can engage with the senses, emotion, empathy, and intuition. A fact-based and fear-based approach is commonly used in environmental campaigns and organizations. Rather than focusing on the natural world or science education, these campaigns tend to focus on environmental demise. Research has shown that this does not work. Appealing to peoples senses and emotions through art could be a better way forward. Art is valuable for scientific communication in many ways, such as synthesizing complex information, promoting new ways of looking at issues, touching people’s emotions, and creating a celebratory atmosphere. The ability of art to engage with the emotions can be used as a strategy to generate empathy and appreciation for the natural world for the purpose of addressing the environmental crises. The ecological crises are complex, intertwined, and effects everywhere and everyone demanding multi-disciplinary collaboration and nonstandard solutions.

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