As general awareness and concern for environmental issues has increased over time, so has the growth of environmental artwork. Artworks in this genre have been used with the intent to motivate conservation action and environmental justice action, as well as spread broader environmental awareness. Different approaches to environmental messages may have varying impacts on viewers’ beliefs and attitudes related to the environment. Yet this topic is still not widely studied. Using a combination of survey and interview techniques, this thesis examines the intersection of art, ethics, and the environment by eliciting the reactions and responses of Arizona State University students to various environmental artworks. The study design presented groups of students with differing imagery, one set categorized as environmentally hopeful or positive, the other as environmentally gloomy or negative. The New Ecological Paradigm scale (NEP) was used as a measure for ethical views. After exposure to the artworks, students showed shifts in their NEP scores in both directions, and some had no change. Between positive and negative artworks, there was no significant difference in change in score on the NEP scale. The results of the thesis inspired a suggestion for a new scale to describe an emerging environmental ethic that is evidenced by the artworks, artists statements, and student reactions in this project: the Social And Ecological Paradigm (SAEP). The paradigm abbreviation includes the letter A to emphasize the importance of considering both the social and ecological implications of human activity. This mindset addresses environmental justice concerns, positive human interactions with the environment, and sustainable human communities. At the core, it is a basic human right to live in a healthy and safe environment, and a positive societal relationship with the environment is necessary to guarantee this right for all. Art is a way for people to connect with the environment and can give insight into the way society’s environmental ethic is ever shifting.
- Art and the Environment: How Creative Perspectives Influence Conservation Ethics