Embracing an Interdisciplinary Approach to Plastics Pollution Awareness and Action


Led by Sara Belontz, the Synthetic Collective published their first co-written paper. It’s not open source yet, but will be soon (or, drop me a line and I’ll send you a copy).

Sara Belontz, Patricia Corcoran, Heather Davis, Kathleen Hill, Kelly Jazvac, Kirsty Robertson, Kelly Wood (the Synthetic Collective). “Embracing an Interdisciplinary Approach to Plastics Pollution Awareness and Action.” Ambio (November 2018), abstract here.

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.

Reprinted in the Blackwood Gallery broadsheet series Shoring, 2019.

photo by Tegan Moore

About Kirsty Robertson

Kirsty Robertson is Associate Professor of contemporary art and Director of museum and curatorial studies at Western University, Canada.
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