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Part Two: A pluriverse of personal stories

Drawing attention to the value of Scotland's peat and wetlands

Nic Dickson

This year, after I completed my PhD in Education, I secured my first Research Associate post at the University of Glasgow. I joined a team of archaeologists, artists, art historians, educators, biologists and environmental scientists on an interdisciplinary project, designed to explore the scientific and cultural value of Scotland’s peatlands. I brought my expertise as an adult educator and participatory arts-based researcher, but I knew nothing of the world of Peat Bogs. I was lucky enough to travel with this group and explore the muddy, yellowing landscape of Glencoe and Rannoch Moor (Figure 1) to seek to understand how our different perspectives might bring new insights into the protection and value of Scotland’s peat and wetlands. 

Amongst the collective, there was a shared understanding that the

environment should be treasured, protected, and investigated. Whilst

walking through muddy marshes, we considered the beauty, history,

and importance of the wetlands: The art historians and educators

shared artworks and artifacts created in response to the aesthetics

of the landscape, spoke of artists’ responses to bio-diversity and how

the arts had been used to represent environmental impacts on the

climate. The archeologists taught us to read the landscape and be

curious about the things we could see, and that which we could not;

together we imagined where the front doors of dwellings might have once been situated. The biologists and environmental scientists provided information about the natural minerals and value of the peatlands and the ways in which these could be preserved without huge effort, and how these actions could have a huge impact on both the climate and climate change. 


Following the site visits, we came together and considered what the land meant to us in our different disciplines. As a graphic note taker, I responded to the discussion and sketched out the salient points from the conversations (See Figure 2). As I drew, I was struck by the layers of history and the complex relationships between humankind and the landscape. The concept of cultural heritage was made more real by listening and responding to the kaleidoscope of perspectives; the land was full of tangible artefacts, from outlines of buildings to fragments from history, and intangible aspects, such as stories, folklore and fable. Through this process, I understood the need to protect and cherish the land and to educate others of its value. 



                                              Figure 2: Importance of the Peatlands from Science, Humanities and Cultural Perspectives

                                                                    Nic Dickson of Visual Inquiry (


About the Author 

Dr. Nic Dickson is an adult educator, visual artist and participatory arts-based researcher. She recently completed her Ph.D where she conducted an arts-based research study with young women who had lived experienced of childhood sexual abuse and homelessness. The study explored the barriers and enablers to their involvement in non-formal adult arts education, and the factors which affected sustained engagement in learning, research and creative practice. She works at the University of Glasgow as a Research Associate, and since graduating has collaborated with colleagues from Education, Sociology, Criminology, Archeology, Modern Languages and General Practice. She currently has three active research roles at the University. She is contactable through or through her visual arts and research company, Visual Inquiry:

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