Goralnik, Lissy; Nelson, Michael Paul; Ryan, Leslie; Gosnell, Hannah. 2015. Arts and Humanities Efforts in the US Long-Term Ecological Research (LTER)
Network: Understanding Perceived Values and Challenges, Chapter 16. In: R. Rozzi et al. (eds.), Earth Stewardship, Linking Ecology and Ethics in Theory and Practice. Ecology and Ethics 2. Switzerland: Springer International Publishing:249-268. DOI 10.1007/978-3-319-12133-8_16
Calls for interdisciplinary approaches to environmental problem-solving
are common across the biophysical and social sciences. Recently, some of these collaborations have incorporated the creative arts and humanities, including projects across the 24 sites of the US Long-term Ecological Research (LTER) network. A substantial body of artistic and written work has been produced by LTER-affiliated sites. However, there has been no systematic analysis of this work. We used a cross-site, social scientific analysis to understand the extent and nature of arts and humanities inquiry in the LTER network and to assess perceptions about the values and challenges associated with it. We found that 19 of the 24 LTER sites agree or strongly agree that arts and humanities inquiry is important and relevant for the sites. Perceived values of this work include its goodness in and of itself, as well as its ability to foster outreach and public involvement and to inspire creative thinking. Contrarily, participants identified funding, available labor, and available expertise as limiting factors in the growth of arts and humanities inquiry in the LTER network. Respondents highlighted themes relevant to the relationship between ecological science
and ethics, including participants’ willingness to accept fostering empathy,
an identified value of arts and humanities inquiry, as pertinent to LTER network goals and research on some level. This ethical potential of arts and humanities inquiry in the LTER network provides an opportunity to bridge ecological research with arts and humanities inquiry in ways that are meaningful for Earth stewardship.
Keywords: Empathy, Ethics, Ecology, Interdisciplinary, Intrinsic value, Place-based