Artist studio, showing brushes and paint

Arts-based Knowledge Mobilization

By Virginia Capmourteres

GIER is thrilled to have supported five interdisciplinary teams in the co-creation of unique communication and knowledge mobilization pieces to disseminate environmental research. This project was funded by GIER and the Food from Thought Knowledge Mobilization Fund (supported by CFREF Food from Thought), which seeks to transfer research knowledge between the University of Guelph and non-academic audiences through original and engaging activities.

This GIER arts-based knowledge mobilization project was designed to help reconnect the arts and the sciences, which in the last few decades have been considered (almost) separate cultures. This nonsensical separation has resulted in the loss of intellectual and creative capacity, as well as a misunderstanding of both scientific work and artistic outputs. This project aimed to foster a dialogue between society, artists, and scientists. It is through this kind of interdisciplinary dialogue where breakthroughs are more likely to happen: New solutions to environmental crises require both criticality and creativity of mind, facts and empathy, scientific rigour and humanity.

The five interdisciplinary teams that participated in this GIER project were composed of a researcher, an end user, and an artist, all with diverse disciplinary backgrounds and roles. The researchers, with the support of Food from Thought, study various aspects of the environment in the context of agricultural landscapes and practices, and thus brought their scientific expertise on the goals, methods, and results of the research to be mobilized. The end users, mostly partner organizations and individuals who collaborate with the researchers, contributed with fresh perspectives to ensure research knowledge is effectively interpreted and utilized by non-academic audiences. The artists provided a much needed creative spark to convey the research in a way that resonates with human values and emotions. To set the teams up for success, this project included a kick-off workshop facilitated by Rebecca Sutherns that equipped the participants with skills and resources around teamwork and creative collaboration. We also offered a free GIER webinar on diverse perspectives on knowledge mobilization, opened to both the participants and the community at large.

We are proud of the work the teams have done and thankful to the Food from Thought Knowledge Mobilization Fund for supporting this project. Written by GIER Early Career Affiliate Hayley Brackenridge, the following links will take you on the teams’ journey of co-creation. Come take a peek!

A watershed of clay: Hannah May, Andrea Piller, and Nina Sampson

What’s the buzz?: Sage Handler, Kira Vermond, Clayton Hanmer, and Allan Woodhouse

Painting forested values: Milena Rosenfield, Liane Miedema Brown, and Jon MacMull

Prairies and bees: Janean Sharkey, Suzanne Matheson, and Jenna Quinn

Acres for biodiversity: Brynn Varcoe, Heather Watt-Kapitain, and Todd Westcott

Banner photo credit: Liane Miedema Brown.

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