Environmental Science and Management


Swift, Judith

Advisor Department

Communication Studies




Environment; Art; Communication; Translation; Education; Right Brain/Left Brain

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 4.0 License.


REBECCA GUMBREWICZ (Environmental Science and Management)

Elevating the Environment Through Artistic Expression

Sponsor: Judith Swift (Communication Studies, Coastal Institute)

Currently there are multiple areas of environmental concern that require not only scientific research but increased public awareness in order to motivate further action toward preservation of our environment or remediation of human impacts. To promote a broader perspective of the most effective ways to communicate science, this project offers the culmination of an environmentally-focused art showcase of student interpretations of science that one could posit elevated public perception of the environment. An integral part of conducting research is understanding how different audiences interpret research findings in order to eventually best communicate those findings to the public if further action is desired requiring some form of advocacy. Translating research in ways easily understood by vast audiences is no easy task, and this field has a long way to go in mastering a practice that conducts research and communicates its importance to relevant stakeholders. A fundamental understanding of this essential communication loop benefits research practitioners by recognizing appropriate mechanisms to communicate science, increase public education, and raise awareness that will hopefully result in a push for changes to the betterment of the world in which we live. Artistic experiences, such as the viewing of a painting, trigger responses in parts of the brain associated with visual understanding, inner thoughts, emotions and learning (Vartanian et al. 2014). When we experience emotion in this way, it influences our attention to facilitate encoding of information and promote better retrieval of that information in the future—also referred to as emotional “stickiness” (Tyng et al. 2017). By provoking an emotional human response that a research paper or scientific lecture (common means of scientific communication) may not elicit, the visual and performing arts connect a deeper meaning to what is seen, heard, and interpreted when viewing a work of art. Using the arts as a mechanism to facilitate learning about the environment in this project generates a net effect in brain chemistry that connects to innate senses and feelings that an academic publication simply cannot do. By combining the net effects associated with experiences in nature and art, this project highlights the importance of using means like artistic media—painting, photography, poetry…etc.—to elicit emotion-based responses in the public that can initiate greater action for environmental education and advocacy. Ultimately, the use of emotional learning through artistic renderings or interpretations of the environment is used to raise awareness for the portrayed environmental issues.

Tyng, Chai M., et al. “The influences of emotion on learning and memory.” Frontiers in psychology 8 (2017): 1454.

Vartanian, Oshin, and Martin Skov. “Neural correlates of viewing paintings: evidence from a quantitative meta-analysis of functional magnetic resonance imaging data.” Brain and cognition 87 (2014): 52-56.

Rebecca Gumbrewicz Final Poster.pdf (2071 kB)
Poster presentation of thesis capstone project "Elevating the Environment Through Artistic Expression"

Rebecca Gumbrewicz Final Portfolio.pdf (6345 kB)
Total artwork submissions of thesis capstone project "Elevating the Environment Through Artistic Expression"