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Sustainability, creativity and communication

This theme investigates the role of art, literature, theatre and other non-scientific forms of knowledge and communication (which might include embodied forms of knowledge/communication such as dance, sport and fashion) in sustainability debates and projects.

Theme aims

Landscape of trees within females head

We will explore, through scholarly enquiry, how exactly these mediums make, or could make, significant contributions to contemporary environmental concerns. Then additionally this theme has a creative dimension, whereby we seek to identify, devise, curate and amplify innovative ways of inspiring people to live more sustainably.

The two strands will generate a symbiotic feedback loop: our interdisciplinary scholarly enquiries will offer insights applicable to our creative, outreach activities, while the latter constitutes a form of research-through-practice allowing us to assess the affordances and pitfalls of different artistic and communicative media.

Research questions

Initial research questions include:

  • What is the role, or potential role, of aesthetics in the fashioning of images and accounts of sustainability?
  • What part can imagination and creativity play in generating, communicating and experiencing new visions of sustainable living?
  • What ecological lessons are encoded in the myths, folktales and practices of traditional or indigenous cultures around the world, and how should we translate those lessons into our own culture?
  • Equally, how can we translate the lessons of modern environmental science into terms that are persuasive for diverse cultures and communities, both locally and internationally?

‘Translation’ is therefore another important focus for this programme: translation between languages, but also between different discursive modes, different media (e.g, text, visual images, music, scenography) and different communities and audiences (e.g., scientists and non-scientists).

The Institute has enabled us to make connections with scholars who share our interests across the University which we would not have made otherwise. It has been extraordinary to discover the range of departments in which similar research is carried out. We are beginning to make plans for collaborative works across different fields and the institute has been a catalyst for this.