Panel j.03 — Educating for sustainability through the arts

Convenors Anna Lisa Tota (Università Roma Tre, Roma, Italy); Christopher Mathieu (University of Lund, Sweden)

Keywords Arts and education; artivism; arts-based approach; sustainability.; pedagogical relationship


Contemporary societies are characterized by a profound crisis deriving from the progressive loss of certainties relating to the “perfect and just world” promised for decades by the dominant paradigms of economic development. In response to this crisis, concepts such as resilience, sustainability, ecology have become central to the public discourse. In this panel we consider sustainability and ecological awareness as fundamental parts of and necessary conditions for social justice. The concept of sustainability has to be considered in a broader sense, not only related to physical environmental conditions, but also reconfigured as symbolic sustainability concerning our ways of thinking and communicating. In this context, education represents the most relevant key intervention.Wamsler and Bristow (2022) have documented how educating for resilience and sustainability requires a new paradigm of relations between the human being and the world. We will need “eco-words” (Tota, 2023b), and “eco-thoughts” (Tota, 2003a) to be able to transform ourselves even before, or at least together with, the external environment, offering a new way of considering boundaries. How can we contribute to the education of new generations in this direction? Artistic languages can become a very relevant resource in this respect.In a perspective concerned with art as agency, this panel draws attention to how “art comes into action” (DeNora, Ansdell 2017; Mathieu, Visanich 2022) in educational settings and may contribute to better focusing on new educational needs (Kaya, et al 2022). Specifically, with this panel we aim at focusing on the connection between educational systems and current social challenges related to sustainability and ecological awareness. The focus is on how artistic languages can support participatory and inclusive pedagogies dealing with challenges of contemporary societies characterized by a constant redefinition of symbolic and cultural boundaries. The arts are able to create not only economic value, but can also deeply intervene in the creation, consolidation and dissemination of social, cultural, ethical, and political values. In recent decades this performative nature of the artistic codes has been analyzed in relation to several contexts and from different disciplinary perspectives: for example, in relation to social justice, human rights, individual, collective, and public memories. New neologisms have been proposed to capture this specific characteristic of artistic languages, such as “artivism” to highlight the potential of the arts for enhancing different forms of activism. Artistic languages have shown their intrinsic capacity to function as resources used by social actors for constructing meanings and shaping social experiences, even the most traumatic ones. Different forms of art (such as visual, graphic, performing arts, music and so on) are meaning-making resources that people use in their everyday lives and can become very effective tools for fighting and transforming consolidated and obsolete ways of thinking. The panel intends to collect theoretical and research contributions from interdisciplinary perspectives. The key topics for abstracts proposals are:

Arts based approaches for teaching and learning practices related to sustainability

Re-imagining pedagogical relationships with arts

Art between formal and informal learning

Inclusive arts education and practice

Arts in alternative pedagogies

Learning new social practices through the arts


Guidelines and abstracts submission