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Comics’ and graphic novels’ effect on the perception of climate change and natural disasters

Sarayeva, Tatyana LU (2017) VBRM15 20171
Division of Risk Management and Societal Safety
Abstract
There is a paucity of research in the field of communicating disasters and climate change through comics and the effect sequential art has on the perception of these two subjects. Increasingly, communication through comics is becoming very trendy, and a few studies demonstrate evidence that comics have effects on the people’s perception of complex matters. In order to extend our understanding of what effect comics about natural hazards and climate change have, I combine two methods: in-depth interviews with comics’ authors and focus groups discussions with students about comics. This multimethod provides an opportunity to compare different perspectives and identify common ground between a creator and a reader. First, using the results from... (More)
There is a paucity of research in the field of communicating disasters and climate change through comics and the effect sequential art has on the perception of these two subjects. Increasingly, communication through comics is becoming very trendy, and a few studies demonstrate evidence that comics have effects on the people’s perception of complex matters. In order to extend our understanding of what effect comics about natural hazards and climate change have, I combine two methods: in-depth interviews with comics’ authors and focus groups discussions with students about comics. This multimethod provides an opportunity to compare different perspectives and identify common ground between a creator and a reader. First, using the results from interviews, two main themes were found: call for action and empathy. Second, I addressed these two themes during two focus group sessions including fifteen participants in total. The results indicate that the perception of climate change and natural disasters is diverse and comics create a platform for discussions on different topics, such as emotions, risk awareness, policy making, leadership or disaster response. This paper discusses challenges that affect the perception of subjects when communicated through comics, intentions of authors, and potential of comics for science communication and communication for change. The findings of this study contribute to the possible development of this type of communication in environmental and sustainability sciences and disaster risk management. (Less)
Popular Abstract
Comics’ superheroes can also fight against climate change
Have we ever thought that comics can be more than just a funny illustrated story? Actually, they can. Comics might be an engaging tool to communicate ‘serious’ topics, like climate change and natural disasters.
What do we know about comics? They are entertaining illustrated stories beloved by children and teenagers. We might also associate comics with animated superheroes and films characters, for example Batman. We read comics to ‘kill time’ or to escape from reality. They take us to a fascinating and imaginary world where everything is possible. We step into the shoes of heroes and act in a way we might either be afraid of trying in the real world, or would never be able to... (More)
Comics’ superheroes can also fight against climate change
Have we ever thought that comics can be more than just a funny illustrated story? Actually, they can. Comics might be an engaging tool to communicate ‘serious’ topics, like climate change and natural disasters.
What do we know about comics? They are entertaining illustrated stories beloved by children and teenagers. We might also associate comics with animated superheroes and films characters, for example Batman. We read comics to ‘kill time’ or to escape from reality. They take us to a fascinating and imaginary world where everything is possible. We step into the shoes of heroes and act in a way we might either be afraid of trying in the real world, or would never be able to experience because of real circumstances.
However, can comics do something more than just to communicate fun and fantesy? Can superheroes – as an extension of ourselves – fight against climate change, for example? Absolutely! Comics can be easily used to communicate ‘serious’ topics, like human rights, climate change or natural disasters. Above all, an entertaining comic book can have a potential to communicate practical advice, while humor in instruction comics brings some entertainment into a daily routine. For instance, instructing people how to ride a bike or evacuate from a room in case of fire.
In a world exposed to various risks, where communication through comics becoming very trendy, especially in a digitalized world, it is important to understand the benefits and effects comics have on people and their perception of ideas or facts. Therefore, I have studied the effect that comics have on the perception of climate change and natural disasters. By understanding effects of comics and how they are achieved, we could harness the mechanisms at play to best utilize comics to communicate environmental and sustainability sciences.
Findings show that people experience different emotions while reading comics, like sympathy and empathy. Some admit that science and art go well together and complement each other; their combination can help readers better understand science, and visualize the consequences of climate change or natural disasters. Interestingly, people perceive information about climate change or a disaster in comics as a manual for action; an inspiring message to start thinking about their own behavior and possible changes they could do in their own life. Surprisingly, sometimes this happens even if a comics’ author did not plan to achieve this effect.
Of course, the effects of different comics are not equal. There are challenges that affect the perception of subjects when communicated through comics. Having different academic, professional and life experience, people perceive climate change and natural disasters depicted in the comics in their own way. This is even better because non-commonality of participants’ experience creates a platform for discussions on different topics, such as policymaking or leadership, and leads to plurality of solutions.
The examples of comics’ effects were derived from two focus group discussions. People in one group read comics about climate change, whereas the second group read comics about natural disasters. The participants were asked to reflect on feelings and emotions the comics triggered, problems (if any) the comics addressed, and other reflections. Overall, the participants admitted that comics, as a medium, spread knowledge about global warming and its consequences, previous scientific research, the role of human beings in science communication and climate change mitigation. (Less)
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author
Sarayeva, Tatyana LU
supervisor
organization
course
VBRM15 20171
year
type
H2 - Master's Degree (Two Years)
subject
keywords
Comics, comics’ effect, graphic novel, climate change perception, disaster perception, risk awareness, science communication.
language
English
id
8922347
date added to LUP
2017-08-07 12:46:14
date last changed
2017-08-09 11:21:33
@misc{8922347,
  abstract     = {There is a paucity of research in the field of communicating disasters and climate change through comics and the effect sequential art has on the perception of these two subjects. Increasingly, communication through comics is becoming very trendy, and a few studies demonstrate evidence that comics have effects on the people’s perception of complex matters. In order to extend our understanding of what effect comics about natural hazards and climate change have, I combine two methods: in-depth interviews with comics’ authors and focus groups discussions with students about comics. This multimethod provides an opportunity to compare different perspectives and identify common ground between a creator and a reader. First, using the results from interviews, two main themes were found: call for action and empathy. Second, I addressed these two themes during two focus group sessions including fifteen participants in total. The results indicate that the perception of climate change and natural disasters is diverse and comics create a platform for discussions on different topics, such as emotions, risk awareness, policy making, leadership or disaster response. This paper discusses challenges that affect the perception of subjects when communicated through comics, intentions of authors, and potential of comics for science communication and communication for change. The findings of this study contribute to the possible development of this type of communication in environmental and sustainability sciences and disaster risk management.},
  author       = {Sarayeva, Tatyana},
  keyword      = {Comics,comics’ effect,graphic novel,climate change perception,disaster perception,risk awareness,science communication.},
  language     = {eng},
  note         = {Student Paper},
  title        = {Comics’ and graphic novels’ effect on the perception of climate change and natural disasters},
  year         = {2017},
}