My thanks to Adeola Enigbokan for the color highlighting idea, which I have imitated in this post. As they say, “imitation is the greatest form of flattery”. Therein lay the entirety of what is not my own original inspiration within this post. This was written originally for a workshop in which we are re-envisioning the fields of Environmental Psychology and Geography, or Psychogeography..hold the jokes, please. I’ve edited this to be a standalone post for this blog, as it is removed from its original context, a larger, ongoing conversation with my colleagues. Onward!
My overarching research interests involve interrogating “American” popular culture for perpetuation and sometimes creation of otherwise hidden social and systemic norms. From gender roles and associated /expected life-choice trajectories to cultural ideas, ideals, images and understandings and methods of producing nature and our relation to / with it. My current research uses visual analysis techniques to discern the underlying myths of nature portrayed in post–WWII car ads in National Geographic Magazine. Here is a link to a more detailed project description.
The Visual and The Creative
My research , and conversations and collaborations with fellow researchers aims to expand our current bevy of methods by which we engage with the visual (analysis and methodology), and to encourage acceptance of the creative. To add the visual, is to create, assemble or find an information base for the fields of Environmental Psychology and [Cultural] Geography (Imagined Geographies or Visual Geography) to accomplish two things:
- Supports and encourages the exploration and use of visual analysis techniques to interrogate images and other material cultural artifacts for their contextual and storied content, rather than solely categorizing and counting their elements a la content analysis or adapted quantitative survey measures
- Allows for the dynamic presentation and sharing of said information so as to be maximally interesting, sensorially engaging and technologically relevant beyond the academy, or at least beyond one specific discipline.
3…2…1…CARE!!! OR Emoting can increase readability and interest
My second goal for the field is to advocate for storytelling techniques and/or interpretive methods that allow exploration of the sensorial aspects of our physical, cultural and social environments. This is to say that students and PhD’s alike need some exposure to publications of interest wherein language is used expressively, with all attendant emotion and individual personality. This can only serve to enrich the texture of the analysis, discussion and presentation. It is time for us to release the imposed rational objectivity of the physical sciences which often stifles the potential for brilliant insights and inspired research inquiries in our interdisciplinary and subjective fields of Environmental Psychology and Geography.
Technology is our friend
Lastly, I sense an opportunity for Environmental Psychology and Geography to seize the opportunity to step ahead of the curve and make our fields relevant and popularly appealing again by encouraging the use of current technology in data collection, analysis, presentation and distribution. There is but a small window of time in which we can be “the first” and still have the luxury of our lead time to become “the best” at producing researchers whose methods and mediums reflect the current array of possible information flows, storage, presentation and technological advancements. The [written] word is no longer enough in a world where people read few books and “learn” from TV and the Internet.
Signed, Shawndel N. Fraser