November 6th 2008
Free Island workshop by world expert
The Macquarie Dictionary defines the word, "theme," as, "a subject of discourse, discussion, mediation, or composition; a topic..." but, in a free Magnetic Island workshop to be held at the Smart Lifestyle Centre in Horseshoe Bay, on November 15 and 16, we may learn otherwise.
The workshop is based on a buzz-term in tourist and environmentally-related interpretation circles: "Thematic communication", and will be conducted by its most famous exponent, Professor Sam Ham, from the Department of Conservation Social Sciences, University of Idaho.
In Professor Ham's 1992 book Environmental Interpretation which popularised the subject: "The topic of an oral or written presentation isn't the same as its theme. The topic is simply the subject matter...the theme on the other hand is the principal message about the subject that you want to get across to your audience."
It seems that, in the world of interpretation, the "theme" is "the point" an interpretor is trying to make.
Accordingly the "theme" of the workshop is to expose the participants to some powerful psychological tools and methods that can: change collective behaviour; get audiences to internalise and remember what you said; and change people's actions.
Professor Ham has worked extensively in Australia; he is a leading consultant in planning, research and training for Tourism Tasmania. Professor Ham led a two-year program developing products and training materials for the interpretation of Tasmania's nature, heritage, food and wine. He is also Adjunct Professor of Tourism at Monash University.
According to Professor Ham, Thematic Communication is experiential, practice-based learning and co-learning. "People remember themes via experiential learning; they forget isolated facts." and "By communicating themes and providing experiential learning, you are planting seeds (beliefs) that can ultimately influence (reinforce or change) how people think feel and behave."
After last's weeks tragic debacle with a croc that died in our waters, apparently from a gut full of plastic bags, Professor Ham's techniques could, no doubt, be put to immediate use - ending plastic shopping bag use across Townsville. And, if the techniques can work on corporations as they apparently can on individuals, perhaps an experiential learning situation could be trialled on the Townsville Port Authority in a fashion similar to that experienced by Magnetic Island ferry commuters as they ply the waters of a plastic (and other) garbage-laden Ross Creek after heavy rain.
Although free, numbers for the workshop which runs from 8.30am to 5pm on both November 15 and 16, are limited and interested readers are advised to complete a registration form (click here) or contact Townsville City Council's Integrated Sustainability Services, on 4727 9520 or email: email@example.com
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