Art for the Environment: An Exploration of Non-Curricular Interdisciplinary Environmental Education

Hello all!

My name is Rachel and I’m a rising senior (eep!) at William & Mary, double-majoring in Environmental Policy and Government.

Below is the abstract for my project:

I’ll be writing my thesis on non-curricular environmental education, with an emphasis on environmental education that incorporates art, graphics, and data. My research question is: To what extent can an interdisciplinary approach to environmental education better communicate the science of climate change to communities that aren’t typically reached?

My honors thesis will center on scholarly research on non-traditional non-curricular environmental education. I will also study recent research on environmental psychology, which emphasizes the role of combining approaches that appeal to both emotional and analytical responses. My thesis will also involve original data collection. I will conduct sociological interviews with environmental artists, environmental educators, and individuals studying environmental attitudes and climate communication. I will write a traditional academic honors thesis, but will also translate my findings for a broader audience, through white papers and a website. 

This semester, I’m studying abroad at Sciences Po in Lille, France. I’ve had the opportunity to take a few wonderful classes in the Masters of Sustainable Development, which have broadened my perspective on environmental issues. My coursework here has made me particularly interested in environmental justice, and how I can incorporate justice and ecology into my thesis work. I’m still thinking about how exactly to do that — this semester has given me lots of food for thought!

I’m thrilled about writing a thesis, and can’t wait to muse about the process and substance of my research on the honors blog.



  1. Alan Braddock says:

    Great project! For an interesting public art installation about global warming, see the website archive for Olafur Eliasson’s “Ice Watch Paris” (, a temporary arrangement of glacial fragments from Greenland set up in the Place du Pantheon in Paris during the COP21 U.N. Climate conference. Arranged in a circular, clock (or “watch”) pattern, the large ice chunks became a major attraction, with people posing for photos and doing all sort of other things around them as they melted away. The Pantheon is where Rousseau, Voltaire, and many other French Enlightenment luminaries are entombed. That fact, along with the temporal reference, made the installation an interesting public meditation on time and knowledge in the Anthropocene.

  2. Alan C. Braddock says:

    Cool project! For an interesting example of public art addressing global warming, see the website for Olafur Eliasson’s “Ice Watch Paris” (, a temporary installation of twelve glacial ice fragments from Greenland arranged in the form of a clock (i.e. “watch”) in front of the Pantheon in Paris during the recent UN COP21 conference. The work’s allusions to time, spectatorship, geographic interconnection (i.e. of Arctic and Europe), and “Enlightenment” (Rousseau, Voltaire, et al are buried in the Pantheon) made the work a rich historical meditation on modernity and the conditions of environmental knowledge in the Anthropocene. Of course, all the ice melted by the end of COP21.

  3. mephillips17 says:

    Rachel – I’m so excited about your thesis! I would love to talk to you about the parallels between our projects – though I’m focusing on animals and you’re focusing on the environment, the educational aspect of the films I’m analyzing definitely overlaps with environmental issues (like in Finding Nemo and WALL-E). I know you’re looking at materials that are primarily designed for education, whereas most animated films are designed for profit, but it’s interesting to think about how messages about sustainability and nonhuman animals are conveyed in both cases. Anyway, I can’t wait to see how your research goes!