Although often touted as being a relatively new area of research, the field of Visual Literacy actually has a long history in some research disciplines, such as Theology, Anthropology, Art History and Iconography. However it has suffered, as has most of academia, in that the various research areas rarely if ever share current research or even have the opportunity to talk to each other. While even the most cursory investigation of each discipline’s research foci reveals that there are overlaps of understanding such as the way education has drawn from art appreciation, art history and systemic linguistics relatively critical appraisal of how each area of investigation understands what actually constitutes the notion of visual literacy, employs specialized language to describe and discuss their peculiar understandings and the specific methodology employed in unpacking, investigating and exploring visual literacy is in its infancy.
The delegates invited to present at the Second Global Conference on Visual Literacy, that gathered at Mansfield College, Oxford in July 2008 were, if not the one of the first groups to begin a process of sharing, were certainly one of the first to publicly voice their sense that despite paradigmatic differences there were more points of their current research agenda that generated mutual understanding than divided them. More importantly a sense of taking both the differences and similarities and further exploring these threads as possible points of connection to which a resolution could refocus all foundational underpinnings and methodological connections in this area was a central focus of recognition. Thus, an important outcome was the need to extend the interdisciplinary dialogue within this conference and beyond.