S3.7: How the arts and humanities can improve warnings of eruptions: innovation in engaging communities at risk


Karen Holmberg

New York University, United States of America

Christopher Kilburn

University College London, United Kingdom

Anna Hicks

University of Cambridge, Cambridge, United Kingdom

Kate Walker

University College London, United Kingdom / Royal Academy of Dramatic Art, United Kingdom

Maria Laura Longo

University of Naples, Italy

How communities see their local volcano is often conditioned by a complex mixture of culture and natural heritage. Scientific ideas can become altered by selective filtering and can hinder confident responses to warnings of eruptions,especially at volcanoes reawakening after several generations in repose. Faded memories of eruptions can engender uncertainty in warnings and mistrust of official advice. Trust is improved by community engagement, which is enhanced by building on a community’s cultural and artistic frames of reference rather than relying on the science-based instructions conventionally issued by civil protection agencies. Instead of presuming that communities understand the science behind warnings, official advice may be received more readily when expressed as part of a community’s existing narrative of volcanic behaviour. This session invites anyone with relevant practical and research experience,including earth scientists, social scientists, science communicators, art-science collaborators, and civil protection officials to discuss how trust in warnings can be improved by engaging communities through artistic expression, education, celebration and conservation. Early-career researchers are especially welcome. Essential questions include: How can we make memories relevant to understanding the future? What new roles can museums, oral histories, and dramatic presentations play in raising understanding of warnings – and reducing risk – in local communities? Can volcanological understanding be improved by reinterpreting volcanic behaviour in terms of cultural history? Addressing these questions will provide an exceptional opportunity to share local experiences, establish a network of institutions and activities, and encourage a new generation of ‘inspirational ideas’ to design best practices for application in wider volcanic contexts.

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