Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences

Arts Sustainability

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Who this event is for

  • Everyone


Headington Campus, Gipsy Lane site


A one-day symposium and dialogue process curated by SSRU and hosted by ARP featuring contributions from three leading figures in the field of arts and sustainability - Arran Stibbe, Hildegard Kurt and Peter Gingold.


  • Ecological citizenship and the Arts Dr Arran Stibbe
    In this talk Arran will discuss ecological citizenship and its relationship with sustainable development, the transition movement and the Dark Mountain project. He will explore the role of the Arts in helping to break out of a set of social and cultural constructions that have placed humanity on a path to self-destruction and in helping to open up new, previously unimagined paths. He will raise questions of whether it is too late, or impossible, for the trajectory of society to change fast enough to avert ecological collapse of some kind, and the consequences for how we see our work.
  • What has sustainability got to do with an expanded understanding of art? Dr Hildegard Kurt
    In order to become sustainable, we need a viable understanding of the human being: an understanding which is strong, emphatic, but beyond anthropocentrism. The idea that every human being is an artist, based on the expanded concept of art or ‘social sculpture’, offers such a new, viable understanding of the human being. But what does the expanded concept of art mean? Why is it necessary in order to practice truly humane – and thus also ecological – forms of living and working, of economy, of science, of education and of politics? The idea of social sculpture corresponds with the “culture of the inner human being” that the economist and early promoter of sustainability, Ernst F. Schumacher, called for. If this culture is neglected, selfishness, according to Schumacher, remains the dominant power, especially in the economic system.
  • Tipping Point: facilitating collaboration between artists and climate experts Peter Gingold
    For six years, TippingPoint has been creating dialogue between artists and climate experts of all types, with the aim of creating new projects, collaborations and cross-fertilisations, first in the UK, and more recently internationally. Its activities have given and continue to offer artists and scientists the opportunity to explore the cultural challenges precipitated by climate change and the role of artists in this complex debate. Peter will be talking about what has come out of this programme, and where it is headed next.

The Contributors:

Arran Stibbe has a background in both human ecology and linguistics and combines the two in his explorations of the cultural foundations of an unsustainable society, and paths towards reinventing and renewing society under the changing conditions of the world.  Arran is editor of the influential Handbook of Sustainability Literacy as well as founder of practical projects such as the Edible Garden at the University of Gloucestershire where he is a senior lecturer in humanities. His latest book is Animals erased: discourse, ecology and reconnection with the natural world, which will be published shortly by Wesleyan University Press. 

Hildegard Kurt is a cultural researcher, author and social sculpture practitioner living in Berlin, Germany. Her work focuses on art and sustainability, culture and sustainability, aesthetic education and intercultural dialogue. Hildegard has initiated several cultural and arts projects. She teaches, lectures and runs workshops internationally. She is currently International Visiting Research Fellow at Oxford Brookes University, linked to the Social Sculpture Research Unit where she is also supervising Masters and Doctoral students and co-authoring a book on aesthetic strategies for transformation with Shelley Sacks. 

Peter Gingold is a cultural facilitator who founded Tipping Point and is its Co-Director. Peter has had a very varied career, including spending a number of years working in low cost housing in developing countries, founding an electronics business in the silicon fen, and working as a management consultant. He became Chief Executive of the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra in 2001, and led the artistic side of Liverpool’s successful bid to become European Capital of Culture in 2008. He is a Trustee of the meditation centre Gaia House, and the homeless charity Emmaus Greenwich.