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Ambio. 2018 Nov 17. doi: 10.1007/s13280-018-1126-8. [Epub ahead of print]

Embracing an interdisciplinary approach to plastics pollution awareness and action.

Author information

1
Department of Earth Sciences, University of Western Ontario, 1151 Richmond St. N., London, ON, N6A 5B7, Canada. sbelontz@uwo.ca.
2
Department of Earth Sciences, University of Western Ontario, 1151 Richmond St. N., London, ON, N6A 5B7, Canada.
3
Eugene Lang College, The New School, 66 West 12th St., New York, NY, 10011, USA.
4
Department of Biology, University of Western Ontario, 1151 Richmond St. N., London, ON, N6A 5B7, Canada.
5
Department of Studio Arts, Concordia University, 5917 Rue Beaulieu, Montreal, QC, H4E 3E7, Canada.
6
Department of Visual Arts, University of Western Ontario, 1151 Richmond St. N., London, ON, N6A 5B7, Canada.

Abstract

This paper considers how an interdisciplinary approach to the "wicked problem" of plastics pollution offers unique and important collaborative possibilities. Specially, the paper considers the approach of the Synthetic Collective, a group comprising artists, humanities scholars, and scientists. Considering first how artists and scientists might respond differently to tracking, mapping, understanding, and representing plastics pollution, we then look for potential points of commonality across disciplinary difference. In respect to the urgent and multifaceted problem of marine plastics pollution in the Great Lakes region, we ask what are some of the successes and pitfalls of bringing together diverse approaches and interests? The paper concludes with a clear strategy: a set of instructions geared towards building successful interdisciplinary collaborations. Ultimately, we conclude that a strong relationship amongst scientists and artists is possible, fruitful, and indeed warranted when shared goals are the driving principle of the group.

KEYWORDS:

Arts; Humanities; Interdisciplinary; Plastics pollution; Sciences; Wicked problem

PMID:
30448996
DOI:
10.1007/s13280-018-1126-8

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