August 10, 2018

The reluctant scientist

As most of you know, I have a background in media arts and technology, focusing for many years on emerging communications technologies such as online environments, data driven public art, augmented reality and now virtual reality.

What some of you may not know is that I am currently undertaking a Research Masters of Applied Science at the Institute of Applied Ecology at University of Canberra. My topic explores pro-environmental behaviour change through the lenses of cognitive psychology and behavioural economics. The project focuses specifically at vulnerable energy consumers and supporting them to make decisions that help them to save energy and reduce energy costs. It builds on my decade of experience in the public sector focusing on household environmental sustainability and energy efficiency public engagement.

It would be an understatement to say that my transition from the Arts to the Sciences has been challenging. Although nature, ecological balance, the environment and water issues have been prevalent in my creative work for more than two decades, the shift to a scientific approach and perspective presents a completely different world.

Many artists collaborate with scientists which enriches both fields. I have also met quite a few artists who have come from the opposite direction – training as scientists before becoming artists. I have not met that many who, like me, are re-skilling themselves formally in a scientific field. Even fewer are women over 50! (Oops – did I say that aloud?!)

I feel like I am rebuilding myself.

An artist recently said to me that “scientists are researchers and artists are searchers.” I do agree with that – as an artist you can bounce ideas around, jump from theory to concept to design and process almost seamlessly. As a scientist, everything you say must be qualified and quantified – experiments need to be based in the supporting theory and methods. It takes a very different brain space – and it ain’t easy!

After a minor meltdown earlier this year – I declared jokingly to my ever patient uni supervisors that if I ever finish I would write a book titled “The reluctant scientist.”

This blog thread is a small effort towards this goal – writing about my research journey from the Arts to the Sciences and how that figures in my creative projects and evolving mindset.

I am not promising that this will always be an insightful blog thread – perhaps there will be tears and rants – who knows 🙂 What I do promise is to share the journey and some of the research that I find useful along the way.

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About bytetime

Tracey M Benson is a lover of travel, having a diverse background as an artist, writer and researcher. Working with online environments since 1994, Tracey's experience includes providing digital media, web and social media solutions to government, non-profit, private industry and tertiary sectors. Her focus is on sustainability behaviour change and the use of communications and emerging technologies to empower community and build culture.

Category

Behaviour Change, Environment, Sustainability, The reluctant scientist

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