Dr Sally Frampton
Vaccination: never just a question of science.
Vaccination is regarded as one of the greatest achievements of modern science. And yet, the creation, dissemination and reception of vaccines is never just a question of science. Vaccination is also about politics, culture, geography, economics and ethics. Explaining and tackling the challenges of vaccination, from inequality of distribution to vaccine hesitancy, is not just for scientists alone. These are challenges that require the input of all kinds of people with different expertise, experiences and perspectives.
Arts and humanities can and should play an important role in this. As our students’ work showcases, perhaps this is nowhere more so than on the critical issue of communicating vaccination. If most of us see achieving a high uptake among the public as the key objective of vaccine initatives, then the question of how messages about different vaccines are delivered to the public, by whom, and in what format is of vital interest. Close attention needs to be paid to the visual and textual languages deployed in public health communication. Both history and graphic design provide ways to do this. Histories of public health reveal to us a genealogy of tropes, metaphors and artistic imaginings, often reflecting the time and place of their creation, that have been used to try and visualize disease and vaccination. Many of those tropes remain in the modern landscape of science communication. Graphic design pushes us even further, compelling us to think about how design and typography play a powerful role in communicating public health. When it comes to communicating vaccination, ‘small’ details, from colour to typeface, layout to logo, can make a world of difference. This project seeds an exploration between these two areas, with the hope that by working collaboratively, effective ways can be found to communication public health.
Designers as bridge builders
When thinking about the future of design from the point of view of visual communication, the question arises as to what the areas of work will look like in the future. Depending on technological progress and the dimensions of social and ecological balance, the profession of design will have to be redefined. Who do we address with visual communication and how big is our influence on it? What issues do we want to address? And finally, the big question: what will the world be like: tomorrow, in a month, in a year, in a decade? The questions encourage us to find employees who also communicate such questions - on a large and small scale. The advantage of collaboration is undeniable. It gives designers access to other professions, views and tools. It is what is known as thinking outside the box. It allows designers to build bridges. It is more than just translating the ideas of others, it is about collaborating, researching and authorship, about defining a new narrative of a world in which we will interact in the future – together with others.