Creating Pedagogy to Integrate Sustainability and the Arts

Nancy Bertaux, Kaleel Skeirik
June 1, 2018
Europe, North America
Ethics & Social Justice
24 pages
arts and sustainability pedagogy, complexity and sustainability, discernment, modernity, experiential learning, arts and sustainability in higher education
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The creation of a sustainable world urgently requires managers of organizations to consider large-scale changes in the practices and policies of social and economic institutions. Compelling scientific and economic information on the environment, while the basis of much dialogue in higher education and in the public sphere, has failed to motivate adequate progress to date. In this article, therefore, we present an original theoretical model for a pedagogy that brings together the arts and sustainability. We postulate that motivation or “heart” to initiate such actions for the environment and persist in the face of societal and institutional inertia can come from the arts, particularly given their unique and time-proven ability to move the human heart in authentic ways. A sustainability pedagogy that utilizes the arts can be incorporated moreover into any discipline at any level of education. This  pedagogy reaches students not only intellectually but empathetically as well, thereby increasing the depth and effectiveness of learning. Indeed, emphasizing the content characteristics of complexity, modernity, and equity/justice as well as incorporating student reflection/discernment, experiential learning, and community engagement will further enhance an arts/ sustainability pedagogy. In this light, we briefly examine some preliminary courses integrating the arts and sustainability in four different disciplines, including business. We find these examples indicate that the pedagogy suggested by this theory is a promising avenue to pursue. Finally, we provide some specific suggestions for instructors. New pedagogy that integrates the arts with sustainability can thus contribute significantly to the education of future and current managers, those who are essential agents in effecting needed change.