Art Can Save a Panda at TEDx ProvidenceIn May 2015, I had the honor of giving my first TED talk. Please watch and share. As I say at the end of the speech, what I have learned from teaching at an art school is that there is a whole new world of possibility for conservation—if we change our approach. Now is the time to reconnect the arts and sciences. We need to bring artists and scientists together not only to understand what is happening to the animal kingdom, but also to design and implement solutions.
The reason are two-fold. First, many people think of conservation as the work of a select group of scientists when it is, in fact, the work of everyone.
Second, we live in a society in which the arts and sciences are largely separated. This has not always been the case. Some of our greatest thinkers were artist/scientists, like Leonardo da Vinci and Charles Darwin.
Art and science are two ways of seeing, of understanding the natural world and our place in it. And we need both for conservation to work.
Science helps us understand how ecosystems function and offers a road map—the scientific method—for keeping them healthy. Art helps us understand how the presence—or absence—of healthy animals and their habitats affects our daily lives. If we have no life experience with a particular species or place, we are less likely to take action to protect it.
We often think of conservation as a science when it is so much more. It is a problem-solving process that requires collaboration, creativity, and critical thinking. The good news is artists, designers, and scientists do work together, especially in conservation education and outreach.
For examples of art+science collaboration, and suggestions for how to get involved, please visit my new art+science=saving species website, Creature Conserve.