There is a need for evidence-based, innovative approaches to education for real-world problem- solving about issues related to environmental change and adaptation. Residents of New Orleans, must make crucial, tangible decisions about their lives, families, and homes in order to adapt: Should I go through significant cost and inconvenience to raise my house higher off the ground? Should I move, either within or away from New Orleans? Should my family and I take increased health precautions? Should I purchase flood insurance even if I’m not required to and I can’t really afford the cost? Should my family and I evacuate before the next predicted major storm event?
Bierbaum et al. (2014) frame adaptation as “action to prepare for and adjust to new conditions, thereby reducing harm or taking advantage of new opportunities” Nelson et al. (2007) define adaptation as “the decision-making process and the set of actions undertaken to maintain the capacity to deal with future change or perturbations to a social-ecological system without undergoing significant changes in function, structural identity, or feedbacks of that system while maintaining the option to develop.” Environmental decision-making is thus an integral part of how people adapt to the changing environment, and requires the understanding of scientific content, the utilization of knowledge, and the application of values (Dietz 2003, Leiserowitz et al. 2013).
We are combining community participatory strategies with performing arts-based educational approaches that will allow communities to take ownership of their own learning processes and create a medium for public engagement that is aligned with local ways of knowing and thinking.
We have organized a group of Artists - Scientists and Educators (ASE) who are working together so as to create a theater performance focusing on climate change and flooding in New Orleans. Along with the ASE we have also recruited adult community members who want to be a part of this theater performance. Together the ASE and community members will design a theater performance that focuses on issues related to climate change and flooding.
The research objectives for this project are as follows:
Objective 1: Document and examine the collaborative process between artists, scientists, and educators engaged in informal science learning partnerships, in order to understand what aspects of A-S-E collaborations contribute to learning, and how collaborations can be supported and made most effective.
Objective 2: Measure the impact of participatory performance arts-based ISL modules on community decision-making processes and learning about environmental change.