Harvard Forest Fellowship
As environmental challenges become more critical, scientists are increasingly thrust into the spotlight to provide vital information to policy makers, community groups, and individuals. The urgency of getting a population of non-scientists to both understand and care about aspects of ecology is real. Ecological awareness is a powerful mechanism for environmental change. To that end, I believe that science communication collaborations between artists/designers and scientists can foster cultural cohesion around ecological issues. An informed public with a shared ecological awareness is in a better position to support long-term stewardship and conservation practice. Moreover, an informed public will become their own empowered advocates and are more likely to play an active role in maintaining their environments, for both themselves and future generations.
As a 2016-2017 Charles Bullard Fellow I was an embedded artist/designer within the Harvard Forest in Petersham, MA. Over the course of the year, I created a variety of art and design driven science-communication projects with ongoing research initiatives and contributed to the Harvard Forest community through applied creativity, workshops, talks and exhibitions. My Bullard Fellowship program included two distinct research-based creative projects. The first project revolved around the creation of visual work based on the research of the New England Landscape Futures Project. The second project was the creation of a sciarts communication project, titled Hemlock Hospice, in collaboration with scientists studying the hemlock woolly adelgid. For both projects, I explored my interests in speculative design, installation-based interpretive trail design, and cultural event as education medium.
Beyond the creative collaboration with on-site scientists, the Bullard Fellowship was an opportunity to research the theory and practice of science communication. Central to my proposed Fellowship program was research into past, current, and future trends of public engagement with science, specifically ecology and forestry. This research extended beyond the Harvard Forest community and included an exploration of new ideas, communication models, and practice modes to move science communication forward. In particular, I answered the question, “How can art and design support science communication to foster cultural cohesion around ecological issues and help inform ecology-minded decision making."
Although my Bullard Fellowship program was proposed as an exploratory arts-science collaboration, it was also an outreach campaign, and ultimately an education initiative. My program employed a model of stewardship that merges aesthetics, cultural event, environmental awareness, and communication media. The Fellowship included the creation of the artwork itself, as well as the promotion of the larger ideas behind the work.
This project included integrated outreach and an ongoing shared narrative to illustrate the research issues at hand. A combination of traditional offline media and social media was intended to promote reflection, critical thinking, and creativity among both scientists and artists/designers, as well as the general public. In support of the Fellowship’s collaborative intent, I welcomed studio visits, guided tours, speaking engagements, and the opportunity to discuss the research with allied practitioners working in the fields of science, education, art and design.
Project Update: In the Fall of 2018 I was appointed an Associate Fellow of the Harvard Forest (Designer-In-Residence) in support of continued collaboration with Harvard researchers. I continue to work in my art and design studio at the Harvard Forest in Petersham, MA. As always, scheduled studio visits are most welcome. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
About the Charles Bullard Fellowship
The Charles Bullard Fellowship in Forest Research at Harvard University supports advanced research and study by individuals who show promise of making an important contribution, either as scholars or administrators, to forestry and forest-related subjects including biology, earth sciences, economics, politics, administration, philosophy, humanities, the arts, or law. Learn more about the Bullard Fellowship here.
About the Harvard Forest
The Harvard Forest is a department of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences (FAS) of Harvard University. From a center comprised of 3,750 acres of land, research facilities, and the Fisher Museum, the scientists, students, and collaborators at the Forest explore topics ranging from conservation and environmental change to land-use history and the ways in which physical, biological and human systems interact to change our earth.
Since 1988, the Harvard Forest has been a Long-Term Ecological Research Site, funded by the National Science Foundation to conduct integrated, long-term studies of forest dynamics. Since 2011, the Harvard Forest has been the Northeast Core site for the National Ecological Observatory Network.
Research faculty at the Forest offer courses through the Harvard College Department of Organismic and Evolutionary Biology (OEB) and the Freshman Seminar Program. Close association is also maintained with Harvard's Department of Earth and Planetary Sciences (EPS), the Kennedy School of Government (KSG), the School of Public Health (SPH), and the Graduate School of Design.
Learn more about the Harvard Forest here.
“New England Futures Scenario Quadrant,” digital drawing, 7.5 x 11 inches, 2016. Illustrative New England quadrant visualization featuring government and population as two driving scenario forces. Illustration based on photography of Fisher Museum land-use diorama at Harvard Forest. Collaboration with Jonathan Thompson et al.
“Future New England Landscape Scenario No. 22,” digital illustration on paper; 8”X10” 2016
Illustration based on audit of Harvard Forest lab meeting at which researchers shared findings from recent scenario focus group in Burlington VT.
Sea levels rise by 22 feet. “Climate Change Refugees” flee East Coast. Cape Cod Diaspora inundates Vermont commons and coopts town meetings. Dairy farms lose ground to “Field & Stream” condo development. First covered car wash bridge opens in summer of 2049 in West Arlington, Vermont.
“Landscape Futures Prop Kit,” wood, rope, paper, acrylic, found knobs, dials and hardware, dimensions vary, 2016. Collaboration with Dr. Matthew Duveneck.
Pedagogical props as teaching tool for landscape futures outreach. Kit of familiar forms serve as prompts for understanding scenario computer modeling and implications of future New England landscape scenarios over the next 50 years.
“Dendro Data Stick,” 5 x 7 x 30 inches, wood, aluminum tape, acrylic paint, glue, and assorted hardware, 2017. Collaborator: Dr. Aaron Ellison
“Wayfinding Lantern,” recycled field equipment (heat lamp, wood/plexiglass ant nests, aluminum tape, miscellaneous hardware), hemlock, and acrylic, 12 x 12 x 16 inches, 2017.
“Global Warming Warning,” installation at Harvard Forest, 3 x 4 x 5 feet, wood, acrylic paint, sheet metal, and assorted hardware, 2017. Collaborators: Jack Byers and Andrew Bell.
“Environmental Threat Level Sign,” design study for installation, recycled specimen box, fence posts, dowels, acrylic, vinyl, and hardware, .25 x 1.5 x 3 feet, 2017.
“Fast Forward Future,” installation at Harvard Forest, 4 x 8 x 26 feet, wood, acrylic paint, and assorted hardware, 2017. Collaborators: Jack Byers, Dr. Aaron Ellison, Salvador Jiménez-Flores, and Salua Rivero.
“Sixth Extinction Flag,” installation at Harvard Forest, 5 x 5 feet, marine-grade canvas, 2017. Collaborators: Jackie Barry and Aaron Ellison