Exploring integrated ArtScience experiences to foster nature connectedness through head, heart and hand.
Human activities continue to inflict profound detrimental impacts on biodiversity, yet we have not observed a commensurate shift in people's mindsets to achieve a more harmonious relationship between people and nature. As such, the need to shift the publics' perspective and awareness of their interconnectedness with nature continues to drive education and communication programs that aim to deepen the connection between people and nature. This has led to mounting interest in integrating art with science as an influential communication practice to tackle complex concepts such as climate change and biodiversity loss. Art can provide alternative pathways of knowing and understanding the ecological crisis through provoking embodied, mindful and emotional responses. The arts create a dais for personal expression and reflection that traditional education and outreach methods typically cannot. Here, we explore an art-based approach to science communication and nature connectedness through a series of participatory ArtScience workshops. These workshops were delivered at The Living Pavilion, an Indigenous-led, temporary event space that took place in Melbourne, Australia. An integrated and transdisciplinary approach using interactive and participatory ArtScience workshops underpins the key outcomes and findings of this research. Our analysis revealed three themes emerging from the participants' experience: discovery, where participants learn or discover something new about biodiversity which is a thrilling and motivating experience; being in a state of flow, where participants are intrinsically motivated, focused and find joy in the activity; and attunement, where participants experience ecological awareness, relational knowing and a mindful connection to nature. Integrating the head, heart and hands' learning framework into the ArtScience workshops allowed a more nuanced and ground-up approach to our research and helped further understanding of how people create connections to more than human nature. The interrelated themes of discovery, flow and attunement open the potential for new ways of noticing and knowing nature, creating an embodied and holistic relationship with the more than human world. We suggest this is a strong foundation to deepen ecological awareness, which may lead to subtle yet positive changes in attitudes and behaviours towards biodiversity at a local level.