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June 30, 2017

Before I begin | Mudita Pasari, MA ’17, Art + Design Education

by Mudita Pasari

After a bus journey, a few elongated flights and a car drive I have finally covered the mammoth distance to the city of my childhood. After years of living in different parts of the country and world, I am back here for the summer and the Maharam Fellowship project.

The past year at RISD, for me, has been about extensive research into possible ways to discuss the disappearance of the pangolin- a little known endangered species of mammals that walk our two largest continents. This enquiry into a single species became the face of my interest in discussing the disappearance of fauna due to various human activities. Trying to dissect the possible psychological fronts in the context of the disappearing pangolin has opened various pathways for future study of related subject matter rooted in understanding our relationship with the natural world. This research has lead me to experiment with various points of design interventions as a source of disseminating information as well as encouraging local involvement.

My name is Mudita, I am a Narrative and Strategic Designer, who is currently writing from Guwahati, Assam. The Indian state of Assam shares its northern border with Bhutan, its southern tip with Bangladesh and is known for its extensive tea production industry. Guwahati being a relatively smaller city, yet the largest in north-eastern India, is often visited by tourists on their way to the rest of the north-eastern states. The project I plan to pursue through the Maharam Fellowship is the next step in my endeavor to bring to light the discussions of biodiversity, its disappearance and conservation; hopefully creating a larger impact starting in Guwahati, Assam.assamFor the next 8 weeks, I will be working with Mr. Jayaditya Purkayastha, a herpetologist who is the General Secretary at Help Earth, an NGO working tirelessly to drive the conversation about the conservation of urban biodiversity into every household.

Over the past week, I have had two meetings with Mr. Purkayastha, to discuss the possible ways in which I could integrate my interests and aspirations with the functioning of his organization. A widely published author, Mr. Purkayastha has written books on the variety of birds, snakes and turtles found in Assam. His organization is now interested in encouraging school students to be invested in the documentation and conservation of urban biodiversity in Guwahati.

This is where I step in.

Over the next few weeks, I will be spending time with the research papers and other theoretical documents produced and collected by Mr. Purkayastha and his team. I plan to transform these into age appropriate educational material integrated with activities which can be used by schools to encourage the involvement of students in the larger conversation of biodiversity and its conservation.

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If this experiment goes well, we would have the opportunity to further promote and integrate biodiversity centric, activity based educational material within the mainstream educational system; starting from this obscure, often forgotten city of Guwahati.

 

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