Remembering Our Original Family Heirlooms
Accessible education on seed sovereignty.
Design, Ecology, Equity, Shared Value, Systems Thinking
Seed sovereignty is a crucial social and environmental justice movement, which re-establishes community power in a time when seeds are primary controlled by wealthy international corporations and patent law. Unfortunately, the spread of knowledge needed to understand exactly why this topic matters is segmented, locked away in academic articles, and the voices leading the cause—primarily black and indigenous persons—are suppressed and threatened. When education is crucial to addressing a crisis of our time, but existing educational mediums aren’t enough to reach people, how might we re-envision education to be more accessible and enticing? My prototype is an ideological research framework, focused on testing and identifying meaningful ways to educate the public on seed sovereignty by utilizing design strategy and innovative educational mediums.
Recontextualizing existing seed sovereignty knowledge for the average person can promote greater community involvement with existing initiatives, but it also requires crucial consideration regarding how the information is designed and presented, verbally, visually, and through a chosen medium. As a designer, I have tools to engage people, and I also know that knowledge can be embodied and shared in many ways. My approach comes from recognition that academia is not designed to share knowledge with the public, even if that knowledge can help us face crisis. Identifying target market segments and testing knowledge dissemination was crucial to creating targeted educational embodiments, which could effectively educate the average person on topics related to seed saving and seed sovereignty.
The educational embodiments I created this semester focused on re-contextualizing academic articles for accessibility, on creating a new historical lineage for seed saving in the US, and on sharing practical knowledge—each of these embodiments is also intended to share knowledge that intersects disciplines and is holistically accessible to a target market segment. The primary graphic I tested recontextualized a 16pg scientific article, documenting genetic and physical effects of farmer selection on maize. I shared my prototype with the primary author and researcher, who gave feedback for accuracy and said outright that there is a need for this kind of work in the scientific community. I tested the graphic with formally educated Gen Z individuals, with no prior knowledge on related topics, via informal individual interviews, to gauge educational and visual impact. Interviewees enjoyed the visual, expressed that they had learned something memorable, and retained the information with accuracy.