Environmental Equity: Enabling Excellence In Media Art And Science In Under-Served Communities

Coordinator: Molly Hankwitz, PhD

Environmental sustainability, accurate analysis of contemporary environmental systems and regard for health information have special relevance for communities bearing the brunt of environmental damage and long term health risks. Recent tendencies in data visualization, and futurology show citizens’ art, citizens’ science and community-based innovation in new technologies at the very center of knowledge production for these fields. This ‘diy’ media/research, flexible and responsive to community issues and concerns, using open platforms, new technologies, and complex collaborations between experts, citizen scientists, artists, and others, successfully bridges gaps and inequities in the fabric of public learning.

From examining numerous contemporary models, we must consider how media literacy and media-making, in the context of environmental art and science, might grow to benefit the underserved. Media literacy, critical thinking, and community-based media are, after all, effective channels through which communities engage with, participate in, and produce their own history. Art and science are disciplines which link all citizens’ to the value of diverse and very personal information. When coupled with digital literacy to support the work of receiving, recording, and  expressing collaboration, communities have a cultural voice and considerable empowerment to resist.

This paper is driven by these exciting new approaches to and tendencies in art and science. On the one hand, by the new fields developed for gathering “dynamic information” (sentient, environmental) and two, by the primacy of “media literacy” as a fundamental component of human emotional health, education and welfare. It is also driven by apparent cultural inequities where digital means are concerned and its’ primary focus is to articulate that crucial gap.

Interdisciplinary collaboration in media literacy, media arts, and science is capable of expressing both critical thought and the imbalances in thought and action from which under-served communities suffer with respect to the environment. It is essential to give voice to communities in need and to lift them out of simple “job training” trajectories, to explore new ideas, forms of expression and skills with which to engage in broader dialogues.