Visualising Science and Environment, ECREA @ The University of Brighton Symposium. 17-18 November 2011
Graphic design is in the unique position of being able to make invisible ecological concepts visible. This paper will introduce my AHRC funded research on the visual communication of ecological literacy and the graphics made as part of this practice-based project. The research demonstrates how images can contribute to the development of new cognitive skills and even social capacities when built into transformative learning processes. I will describe how visual representation can facilitate ecological perception contributing to greater understanding of complexity, context, connections and causality. This research aims to help graphic design nurture latent possibilities in visuals, especially as a means of facilitating the emergence of new mental models to address sustainability imperatives.
One of the major premises of this project is that fragmentary thinking is an obstacle to sustainability and that reductive attitudes towards knowledge cannot adequately address problems associated with ecological systems - or other complex systems. Responding to this dilemma, this project uses a whole systems approach based on the powerful concept of ecological literacy. This research posits that visual communications offers a means of helping audiences understand context, interrelationships, dynamics and other features of whole systems thinking necessary for ecological literacy to become widespread.