Body Art, Apps and Parties: Creative Knowledge Translation

Tackling climate change requires thinking differently and fostering creativity, imagination, and a sense of societal potential – creative knowledge translation assessment is one means to exercise this mental and emotional muscle.

To this end, my assessment goals are three-fold. First, I challenge students to communicate their research findings to an audience of their choosing, from school children to the UN Secretary-General. Second, in my experience, action is the antidote to climate anxiety. By creating something new and relevant I want to give students a taste for their ability to shape their communities. I also encourage students to make practical policy recommendations to inform decision makers. Third, climate actions requires an ‘all hands on deck’ mentality – everyone can contribute. However, academic writing is not everyone’s cup of tea. I want to provide an assessment format that appeals to and encourages diverse learning and communication styles.

screenshot of the climate gallery webpage

Click on the image to go to the Climate Gallery

There are three main indicators of success: scope, calibre, and heart. The sheer diversity of projects – from designing body art, to developing app concepts, to hosting dinner parties – illustrates the scope for creative expressions and the diversity of student interest and talent. Likewise, the overall calibre of the projects is high, indicating the time, energy, and thought that students invest in their projects. This may be bolstered by the fact that, unlike essays, students present their creative projects to their peers in an end of semester ‘Climate Gallery.’ For example, one student designed a concept for a sculpture based on racialised approaches to fire management in Australia. She learned woodworking under the supervision of her brother, and created a narrated, time-lapse video of the construction process resulting in an impactful project. Finally, students put their heart into the projects, channeling their empathy to address climate impacts and injustices. I suspect that students internalise their chosen research topic to a much greater degree, and I hope that this inflects their careers and larger life moving forward.

Explore a sample of the projects here:


Evaluation / Student Feedback

Doing a creative project as a form of assessment, especially paired with our essay, allowed us to explore a topic of interest and connect with it on a personal level, thereby challenging us to engage with what we researched beyond mere academics and relate it to the real injustices in the world. This is very useful and transferrable in any future career because not only does it teach us to think critically and exercise other skills, it humanizes our research to make it more applicable. 
Annabelle Lim

The biggest reward of doing a project is that I can get rid of the traditional thinking and then be free to realize any idea that comes to my mind. I like the feeling of putting into practice what is written on paper. This assessment will allow me to better understand and apply the knowledge in my essay and demonstrate it in my life.
Christina Yuan
I believe the format of creative projects to be an extremely effective and meaningful method for evaluating students. It cultivates management skills via project planning and timely execution, offers a welcome alternative to a multitude of essays, and yields a tangible product upon conclusion. Moreover, it fosters not just theoretical but also practical skills, which are immensely crucial for future professions. This format is particularly beneficial for individuals who struggle with essay writing, such as international students or those with dysgraphia, as it grants them the liberty to demonstrate their understanding in a way that suits them best.
Dmitrii Andrianov

Doing a creative project as a form of assessment gave me the opportunity to really challenge myself. I do not think of myself as a creative person and have no obvious creative talents. Therefore, this project pushed me not only in getting creative in my thinking, but also in physically taking on completely new tasks. This led to new skills, new passions, and a resounding feeling of accomplishment.  

The assessment style beyond an essay permitted me to realise the tremendous and unique potential that creativity and the arts have in conveying important messages. I learnt this both through my own project and also viewing all my peer’s impressive and meaningful work.  

Lastly, a key challenge was the initial brainstorming to reach the idea. At first this was extremely difficult but once research of the essay topic commenced, the ideas started to flow thick and fast! Time was also a difficulty. It is very difficult to gauge how long a project is going to take when you have never done it before. And of course, for me personally, the use of the wood working tools was at times extremely nerve wracking given their potential dangers, and the fear I could mess up the project!  
Jennifer Docker

  • Exercise imagination
  • Develop creativity
  • Practice empathy
  • Select salient point from research essay
  • Reflect on policy recommendations
  • Choose target audience
  • Decide how best to communicate with that audience
  • Share idea with peers and manage input
  • Design, undertake, and refine creative project
  • Solve problems related to design challenges
  • Develop concrete creative skills
  • Present to peers
  • Experience vulnerability of creativity and presenting creative work
  • Gain sense of ability to shape world beyond classroom
Top Tips

Build familiarity and comfort with concept of creative project throughout semester: 

  • Share examples in first class
  • Provide the assessment rubric from the outset of semester (e.g. Key message, Target Audience, Medium, Impact)
  • Include an external creative project as part of each week’s ‘required reading’
  • Discuss creative projects each class (e.g. What is key message? Who is target audience? How does it make you feel? What works well? What could work better?)
  • Challenge student narratives that ‘I am just not a creative person’
  • Host brainstorm sessions in class creating a space for students to share idea and concerns, as well as solicit input (5 minutes per student)
  • Invite students to book office hour to brainstorm one-on-one
  • Host a creative project workshop guiding students through development process and encouraging them to test ideas with each other (2 hours)
  • Create a friendly environment for Climate Gallery presentations (e.g. snacks, applause, dance breaks)
  • Provide constructive feedback celebrating what works well and providing ideas on how to make concept and execution even stronger


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School: School of Arts, Languages & Cultures (SALC)

Discipline: Humanitarian and Conflict Response

Academic: Stephanie Sodero

Course: HCRI30632 Disaster Mobilities of Climate Change & HCRI61302 Delivering Healthcare in a Changing Climate

Cohort Size: 13 & 27

Themes: Assessment, Learning Socially

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