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Nancy Bertaux, Ph.D., Kaleel Skeirik, Ph.D

Creating Pedagogy to Integrate Sustainability and the Arts

“Creating Pedagogy to Integrate Sustainability and the Arts” Creating a sustainable world urgently requires large-scale changes in social and economic institutions’ practices and policies, and compelling scientific and economic information on this subject is the basis of much sustainability instruction in higher education. Such information has, however, failed to motivate the public to make significant progress on these issues. We postulate that motivation, or “heart,” to initiate such actions and persist in the face of societal and institutional inertia can come from the arts, with their unique and time-proven ability to authentically move the human heart. A sustainability pedagogy that utilizes the arts can be incorporated into any discipline in higher education, and should include student reflection and discernment. This pedagogy reaches students empathetically as opposed to only intellectually, increasing the depth and effectiveness of learning. Instruction that emphasizes the content characteristics of complexity, modernity, and equity/justice, and which considers incorporation of experiential learning and community engagement will further enhance the effectiveness of efforts. Preliminary examples of courses integrating the arts and sustainability in four disciplines indicate the pedagogy suggested by this theory is a promising avenue to pursue.