The Overview Effect as a Tool for Transformation and Action

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When looking back at Earth from space, astronauts have the potential to experience a phenomenon called the overview effect. As described by Frank White (2014), the overview effect produces a “cognitive shift in awareness…” and “often transforms astronauts’ perspective on the planet and humanity’s place in the universe.” This paper explores whether this type of experience could be created on Earth through the use of technology, space analog environments, and transformative learning techniques while evaluating the potential to inspire activism. To investigate this problem, the paper established a full evaluation of the phenomenon, cross-referenced the role of critical reflection in transformation, and evaluated how these combined experiences could convert to global action. The findings revealed that the potential exists for an analog overview effect experience to be achieved, however further technological and simulated experience development are needed. Additionally, although the inspiration to act may be present, further research is needed to identify how it can be converted into activism.

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