2024 Spring Week 1 reflections on risk communication

Each semester provides an opportunity for new students to share their perspectives on a old document and this semester is no different.

One of the new topics discussed this week raised a question on the interaction between risk communication and activism – something we haven’t explored before in this class.  In a quick search, I found a few interesting articles – the one that caught my attention was an evaluation of the online activism of Extinction Rebellion (XRsv) “who describe themselves as an international, non-partisan movement using nonviolent action and civil disobedience to persuade governments to act on the climate and ecological emergency”.  This open source article focuses on the visual techniques used in 334 Instagram posts for the period between Nov 14, 2018 to Mar 1, 2020 and shares results from an interview with XRsv as well as a visual content analysis of these Instagram posts.

While the article identifies various techniques used by the organization, it doesn’t continue to measure the effectiveness of the techniques in the current campaign, although reference is made to how this technique has been used in previous campaigns.  In briefly perusing the article, I am left wondering about the link between what is referred to here as “visual communication” and other marketing techniques.

What also resonated with me was a discussion about connecting art and design in activism (and therefore by connection, risk communication).  I am reflecting on how climate activists have been using art in museums as a means to share their thoughts and how these various actions have been interpreted. Until last year, these demonstrations had focused on European museums.  In April 2023, two individuals applied paint to the protective case of Edgar Degas’ Little Dancer sculpture at the National Gallery of Art museum in Washington, D.C.

Connecting these related concepts of risk communication, activism and the environment in which the message is delivered highlights the many complexities required to evaluate the intended message as well as the intended results in any type of communication, risk-related or not.

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