Exhibiting Climate Change: An Examination of the Thresholds of Arts-Sciences Collaborations in the Context of Learning for a Sustainable Future
Bieler, Andrew Theodore Cecil
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This dissertation probes the cultural and political thresholds of arts–sciences collaborations in the context of the development of public pedagogy about a sustainable response to climate change. The dissertation is an in-depth case study of a civil society group called Cape Farewell that is organizing collaborations between contemporary artists and climate scientists. Since 2003, Cape Farewell has been leading expeditions to the Arctic, the Andes, and the Scottish Islands and Faroes that bring artists, scientists, educators, and other creative communicators together to innovate public pedagogy about a sustainable response to climate change. Drawing on sustainability theory, Jacques Rancière’s theory of political aesthetics, Grant Kester’s theory of artistic collaboration, phenomenological curriculum theory, and Tim Ingold’s notion of wayfinding, the dissertation describes these expeditionary field studies as forms of ecological wayfinding. By following the wayfaring path of learners alongside materials and shared metaphors from field studies to cultural productions, I describe the multifaceted dimensions of ecological wayfinding in relation to arts-based research, curriculum, and pedagogy. Building on Elizabeth Ellsworth’s theory of pedagogical pivot points, I describe the potential of the climate exhibitions, art works, films, websites, and concerts to produce visionary possibilities for a sustainable future on the planet. These public pedagogies variously negotiate the political thresholds of neoliberalism, the cultural thresholds of Romanticism, and disciplinary thresholds in higher education. Central to my argument is that we need to develop place-based and interdisciplinary sustainability curricula and pedagogy in postsecondary art education in order to foster more meaningful forms of collaboration across the arts and the sciences and alongside socioecological places. Finally, we need to envision an ethics of sustainability on the scale of the cosmos rather than the market via the intimate expenditure of bodies-in-motion and the generosity, empathy, and hospitality that can be inspired by emergent forms of relational and site-specific art practice.