Public engagement with climate change through artistic visuals: an experiment with art-science

  • Rhian Field

Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisDoctor of Philosophy


Art has a potentially influential part to play in science communication, assisting in the process of making information more accessible and more effective. It supports education, serves as a universal language and can help us imagine and hypothesize. However, beyond the practical application of art as visual illustrator, there is something more mysterious and the possibility of a potential yet un-tapped. Art has a reputation for influencing human emotions and behaviour, although the exact mechanics of this process is presently unknown. An effective collaboration between artists and scientists might depend upon a more prescriptive approach and a meeting of minds towards clear objectives. Artists might be inclined to take up such a challenge but to what degree would scientists share their conviction? This research explores whether art and science can collaborate effectively to influence behaviour in the environment towards climate change adaptation and how this might be approached. As part of an empirical mixed method approach to field research, an experimental test-kit was developed by science-trained practicing artist Rhian Field. Experiments were set up in a selection of locations in Wales during 2014 and 2015, to explore the opportunities for the role of visual art in the face of climate change impacts and the need for adaptation. This field research, underpinned by knowledge from a broad range of disciplines, examines the factors that potentially influence public engagement with visual art within a context of climate change, and considers the opportunity for art-science within climate change adaptation.
Date of Award2017
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • Aberystwyth University
Sponsors Arts and Humanities Research Council
SupervisorMichael Woods (Supervisor)

Cite this