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Taking action: researching an innovative pedagogy for an aesthetic visual approach to environmental issues
- Young, Carolyn, Reid, John, Meehan, Bart
- Current opinion in environmental sustainability 2015 v.16 pp. 64-72
- aesthetics, basins, curriculum, field experimentation, landscapes, researchers, students, watersheds, Australia
- The School of Art Environment Studio's Field Study program, Australian National University, Canberra, Australia, has established an innovative pedagogy that melds subject disciplines about environment with creative output, delivering an interactive art/community educational platform that informs the art of students, enhances curriculum objectives and, at the same time, communicates aesthetically about prevailing environmental issues to involved communities. The paper outlines the development of the Field Study program with reference to several programs that took place in Australia's Murray Darling Basin (2003–2010) in which artists were briefed by researchers in the sciences and the humanities, and by key members of regional/rural catchment communities. Four of these programs were instigated under the aegis of the Engaging Visions Research Project (EV Project) (2007–2010) in which the experiences of both participating artists and the community they encountered were evaluated to provide a better understanding of how to improve and adapt the program. Only the methods and findings with regard to artists participating in the EV Project Field Study programs are outlined in this paper. The findings are synthesised under four themes: what inspired the artists to make art; what Field Study procedural elements are needed for an artist to develop a ‘sense of place’; what makes the environment salient in a tertiary visual art program; and how these, combined, develop an artist's professional skills. The data indicated that: artists were inspired by their interactions with the community (in particular), the field location landscape and each other; the program facilitated a sense of place for the artists and made the environment salient; artists’ awareness about the environment was strengthened and they developed professional skills including increased confidence in expressing ideas about the environment.