As a communication designer and illustrator I am deeply invested in how practice and research can inform the disciplines beyond the requirements of the client/brief.

Below is an overview of my current research around comparing the mechanisms of empathy, curiosity and wonder within natural history organisations and how design can inspire valuing the difference between them. Recent work centres on generating empathy in regards to biodviersity within science communication settings.

Research Title: Facilitating Multispecies Narratives within Science Communication Settings to Encourage Empathy around Biodiversity

Abstract: This practice-lead thesis explores how communication design can generate multispecies thinking and story telling in science communication settings. The intention is to encourage members of the public to empathetically relate to other species in regards to the current extinction trends within declining global biodiversity frameworks. Currently the global rate of species-scale extinctions indicates that a sixth ‘Great Extinction’ has already begun. Many of these losses have been attributed to the impact of human activity upon the planet. The extent and nature of this impact has lead geologists to redefine the current geological era as the Anthropocene. The thesis addresses directly the interactions between science communicators and organisations working directly with the public in relation to biodiversity, ecology and zoology. Using a modular set of tools, in the form of illustrated dominoes, participants engaged in shared story telling about their experiences with pigeons. Pigeons are a ‘companion species’ and occupy particularly intertwined histories and relationships with humans. After using the tools, semi structured interviews took place with participants to reflect upon the effectiveness of the thinking tools in achieving their designed intentions. Conversations were audio and video recorded and analysed using thematic analysis. Findings indicate that the game achieved its intentions of stimulating story generation involving overlapping multiple positions surrounding the participant’s relationships to pigeons, the animal world and nature in general. Emerging empathetic perspectives by participants were identified during interviews.

Keywords: Multispecies, Narrative, Science Communication, Anthropocene, Empathy.