A (graphic) novel way to convey public values on environmental research to Undergraduate students.
Professor Rob Fish has created a graphic textbook exploring growing interest and concern in the valuation of nature. The book was inspired by Rob’s long term work on public values about the natural world, and is an outcome of his work with NERC‘s Valuing Nature research programme of which he was a co-ordinator.
While teaching environmental research to undergraduates, Rob created a fictitious learning world to support seminar learning. This inspired the creation of cartoon materials informed by undergraduate understanding of the issues. In fact, the students actively reviewed Rob’s materials and formally reviewed the work for the academic publisher. ‘As such, the book has been a wonderful experience of research informing teaching and teaching informing research: and students marking.’
Rob sees the illustrated/comic material as ‘a fantastic way of creating a positive teaching environment’, and has had some really positive feedback from the work.
Rob collaborated with the illustrator Holly McKelvey having worked with her on previous research projects with a science communication element. She explained about the process of creating ‘Valuing Nature’.
‘In its initial phases, we imagined a small 20-page leaflet.’ she explained ‘It… grew. There’s just so much to this topic and the characters developed so much personality, that when we submitted the complete manuscript, we ended up sending off a whopping 130 pages to our publisher. The book extended beyond its original time frame as well, pushed back at first by the extreme changes of a covid world, and then further due to the challenges of balancing it with other projects and with life. The extension was both tough and wonderful—wonderful because it allowed us to include so much more, and tough because I simply hadn’t planned for it. A lot of gymnastics were necessary to make it work, which makes me even prouder that we managed it.’
The work was funded by NERC, which facilitated the creation of illustrations. The book is being published at the end of July.
Find out more about Valuing Nature here.