Sustainability Roundup: Sustainability and the Arts

Frequently, when we think about environmental sustainability, our minds immediately turn to science.  However, there are many parts of environmentalism that are not scientific (in the traditional sense).  This blog post will give you a small background on some of those other elements that come into play.

Clara Fang’s “The Art of Submission” stresses the importance of an aspect of environmentalism that is sometimes overlooked: the arts.  In her essay, she explains the frequency with which people rely solely on science and technology to solve environmental issues, while the source of the problems, “our minds,” is overlooked.  She calls attention to how we focus on altering the world around us to meet our needs, which oppresses the environment and other less fortunate people in the process, rather than changing ourselves to solve our problems.

Fang shows how the arts, namely poetry, have the power to evoke emotions within ourselves that help us sympathize, realize the intrinsic value of all things beautiful, like nature, and motivate us to change our perspectives and take action towards solving our environmental problems.

Read parts one and two of her thought-provoking essay on her blog.

Aside from poetry, another form of the arts that has been used as a tool towards environmental action is photography.  In the 1900s, one famous photographer, Ansel Adams, made a huge impact on the public’s opinion of the environment in the United States through capturing the natural beauty of untamed wilderness in his photographs and publicizing them through venues like the Sierra Club.  Awe-struck Americans were motivated to protect the environment and advocate for national parks simply because of the sheer beauty of nature.

This fall, UConn has a *new* interdisciplinary major between the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences (CLAS) and the College of Agriculture and Natural Resources (CANR) called “Environmental Studies”  that emphasizes the importance of looking at sustainability from many lenses, not strictly focusing on the scientific or engineering fields. Arts, humanities, social sciences, natural sciences, engineering – every field can offer an important perspective on sustainability.

– Kerrin


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