The Overview Effect as a Tool for Transformation and Action

As part of my master’s, I conducted research into the Overview Effect and how an analog version of the phenomenon could support transformation and action. The resulting paper was peer-reviewed through Prescott College’s Master of Arts in Adventure Education Program.

I want to extend a special thank you to my core faculty, second reader, Frank White, Martine-Nicole Rojina, and Space for Humanity for their expertise and insight throughout the research and development of this paper.


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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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Enjoy and feel free to contact me if you have any questions. Have a great day!

About the author

Erin Bonilla

I am a curriculum developer, technical trainer, communicator, and adventurer with a passion for human space exploration and training. I am actively involved in science, technology, engineering, art, and mathematics (STEAM) educational outreach efforts and advocate for the deep connection between the arts and science education.

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By Erin Bonilla

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