UBC Undergraduate Research

Titanoboa : a cost benefit analysis of the eatART Foundation’s environmental education & public outreach activities Jhutti, Romy-Rajvir


The purpose of this research is to offer greater insights in to the link between art, environmental education, and behaviour change through investigating the role of art in the fight against anthropogenic climate change. This study aims to examine the effectiveness of art as a tool for spreading socio-environmental education, and cognitive learning with the viewer, encouraging pro-environmental individual behaviour change. Specifically, my research is centered on an environmental cost benefit analysis (CBA), in the investigation of the eatART Foundation’s performance sculpture Titanoboa, and the impact of its art-based environmental educational outreach activities at the 2013 Vancouver Chinese New Year Parade. This research will answer the following questions put forward by the eatART Foundation: 1. What message is the viewer taking away from our outreach efforts? 2. How can we share the environmental message of our work to encourage the greatest impact on the viewer as well as the environment? 3. How can we minimize the impact of our personal energy consumption patterns while sustaining the greatest impact on our audience members? In the interest of spreading their mandate of “energy awareness through art”, eatART must travel to distant outreach locations by motor vehicle, generating a harmful carbon footprint in the process. This is an environmental cost, which contradicts eatART’s environmental mandate and ultimately contributes to the phenomena of global warming and climate change. To conclusively determine whether the environmental benefits of eatART’s educational outreach offset this carbon footprint, this study employs a three part qualitative and quantitative method, which quantifies and compares the carbon footprint in relation to the cognitive level of learning as well as its relative impact amongst outreach participants. The environmental costs of this case study are quantified based on eatART’s carbon footprint owing to transportation, and are focused on understanding Titanoboa’s overall impact on climate change. Titanoboa’s carbon footprint is calculated strictly based on the CO₂ emissions generated from the modes of transportation used by eatART in travelling to the 2013 Vancouver Chinese New Year parade. Overall, results indicate that eatART generated very miniscule environmental costs, with a very small carbon footprint of approximately 10.87 kilograms of CO₂. Although eatART normally relies solely on the use of fuel-based motor vehicles for transportation, in this case study eatART utilized several low-emission modes of transportation. These environmentally friendly modes of transportation partially account for the small carbon footprint. However, the small carbon footprint primarily occurred due to the fact that eatART travelled a very short local distance within Vancouver of merely 86.4 kilometers and consequently emitted very low amounts of CO₂. While the environmental costs in this case study were low, Rathore’s research demonstrates that eatART could potentially generate a very high environmental cost through extensive long distance travel relying on motor vehicle use. In order to maintain a low carbon footprint in future outreach, eatART should focus on reducing their CO₂ emissions by travelling less. I recommend restricting all future environmental outreach activities to destinations within a small local area that require only short distances of travel. I would only recommend travelling to distant outreach locations in situations where the environmental benefits are known to outweigh the environmental costs 4 associated with travel. EatArt should also increase the use of environmentally friendly modes of transportation in the future, as the findings demonstrate that these modes can be successfully employed to lower CO₂ emissions while maintaining the quality and scale of educational outreach. Alternatively, eatART could also explore the possibility of creating lightweight art pieces instead of large heavy performance art sculptures, as they require less fuel to transport. Likewise, eatART could also consider the possibility of creating fixed art installations that do not require any travel for environmental outreach purposes. Lastly, eatART could also explore the option of purchasing carbon offsets, which indirectly reduce the overall negative impact of eatART’s activities on the environment. The environmental benefits of this study are based on measuring the overall success of Titanoboa’s environmental outreach programming in facilitating cognitive understanding of environmental awareness with the viewer, as well as individual behaviour change. To quantify the environmental benefits of educational outreach programming, this research employs a two-part investigation utilizing a research survey and interviews. The research findings of the survey, suggest that there are a low amount of environmental benefits offered by Titanoboa’s current outreach efforts. Generally, the results demonstrate that the perceived message behind outreach programming did not spread a message of environmental awareness, but instead encouraged a message of innovative artwork and technology. Correspondingly, participants indicated that they were highly unlikely to adopt any pro-environmental behaviour changes as a result of outreach efforts. The research findings from the interviews also support the findings of the research survey, confirming that very low amounts of environmental benefits are offered by Titanoboa’s current educational outreach. To reap the environmental benefits of art-based environmental outreach in the future, eatART must reassess the framework of Titanoboa’s educational outreach programming. In order to spread the message of energy awareness and encourage behaviour change with participants in the future, my recommendation for eatART is to redesign their educational outreach programming so that it communicates a very clear environmental educational message and utilizes effective strategies to communicate this message with their audience. Educational programming must be redesigned to communicate a central message of environmental awareness with the viewer instead of innovative art and technology. I also recommend increasing public interaction and involvement with the viewer in future outreach endeavors, as research demonstrates that increased public interaction and involvement is especially fundamental when attempting to foster environmental awareness, and a personal connection facilitating behaviour change. While inspiring behavioural change with the viewer, can be challenging, research demonstrates that the use of non-conventional strategies in outreach such as social marketing, critical place-based education and eco-visualization can be highly influential in spreading climate change awareness as well as influencing individual behaviour change. As such, my recommendation for eatART is to also incorporate the use of these strategies in their future outreach programming. Once the changes to outreach programming are implemented, my recommendation to eatART is to continue to use environmental CBA to measure the overall impact of their educational outreach programming, to monitor whether the benefits of outreach offset the costs.

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