Communicating Research through Comics: Transportation and Land Development

Kelly Clifton, Portland State University



This project aims to translate research findings from several NITC projects (PI Clifton) about considerations of transportation in the land development process into a comic, thus enhancing comprehension, encouraging representation, and developing a wider audience for this critical information. Namely, PI Clifton and coPI Currans have a long history of collaboration around the data, methods, and processes used to assess, mitigate, and plan for multimodal transportation impacts of new development. Their research has supported cities in developing frameworks that are more equitable, sustainable, and multimodal. Despite these advances in the knowledge, there are limits to their implementation, in part, because of lack of understanding. In more progressive public agencies, there is often pushback from constituents who seek to protect the current paradigm, which privileges the automobile and with that wealth and whiteness. In other places, the public agencies themselves need to be educated about the latest research so that they can change internal processes and do a better job communicating with the public.  
     To this end, this project will utilize a popular and accessible medium – comics – to communicate and disseminate this knowledge widely. Comics is “juxtaposed pictorial and other images in deliberate sequence, intended to convey information and/or produce an aesthetic response in the viewer” (McCloud, 1993). In conjunction with faculty from the Comic Studies Program at Portland State University (PSU) and independent artists, we will develop a digital and limited print edition comic that translates these concepts into an educational tool. Comic art maintains a long history in educational circles, from Will Eisner’s P.S. magazine in WWII to Martin Luther King and the Montgomery Story’s role in promoting civil disobedience. The ideas and the comic itself will be vetted and tested with the input from PSU students, a technical advisory committee (TAC), and a community advisory committee (CAC). The final product will be freely available for wide dissemination in digital form. Using this comic as a demonstration, a workshop about communicating research results with comics will be conducted at PSU for faculty and students.

Project Details

Project Type:
Technology Transfer
Project Status:
In Progress
End Date:
December 15,2022
UTC Grant Cycle:
NITC 16 Translate Research to Practice
UTC Funding: