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See keynote speakers of the conference "Sustainability through art"

 SUSTAINABLITY THROUGH ART: The Role of Art In and Towards Sustainable Changes

Programme / Book of abstract

Conference Theme


The Research Committee of Sociology of Arts and Culture (CR-SAC) of the Swiss Sociological Association and the Universities of Geneva, Lausanne as well as Lucerne would like to welcome all participants to the conference “Sustainability through Art”. The main purpose of the event is to render visible what is being done in the field of “arts and sustainability”, engage in debates and discussions between different actors working in the field, and explore future research and research-action directions.

For more than a century, sociology has studied art and culture as being among the main pillars of society and human activity, intertwined with social norms, values, traditions, ways of being, and seeing. In 2015, the United Nations Member States adopted the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) towards attaining “a better and more sustainable future for all”. Some of the SDGs have long been the direct research subjects of the social sciences: poverty and vulnerability (SDG 1), health and wellbeing (SDG 3), labour and working conditions (SDG 8) as well as gender and social inequalities (SDG 5, 10). Since the 1970s, studies have also delved into the sociological aspects of what was left for a long time to the natural sciences: issues at the crossroads of society and biodiversity, marine and wildlife preservation, energy resources, and climate change – constituting a major part of the SDG agenda.

While the sociology of arts and culture has long dealt with classical sociological questions of artistic production, distribution and reception, the concern for ecological issues has only recently been taken up.(1) On the one hand, the artistic field is an economy and an industry like any other, where the use of natural and human resources leads to questions of inequality, access, and power relations. On the other hand, it represents a particular case, as intertwined with the issues of sustainability are those of artistic meaning, reception and cultural practices, and social factors different than in other fields. This calls for broader sociological analyses of the complex relationships between arts/culture and sustainable development in all its forms. The sociology of arts and culture therefore provides a special take on all areas of sustainability while contributing to bridging the gap between dualisms such as ‘nature/culture’, ‘environment/society’, and ‘art/technology’.

The initially identified two main themes – the environmental and social impact of art and art’s role in the support of the transformations towards more sustainable societies – will be discussed in various ways and approached from different angles. Over thirty scholars will give fourteen presentations, reflecting on the role of art in taking up environmental sustainability (session 1) and illustrating it (session 2), the sustainability of art itself (session 3), and its role in making change happen, both in specific contexts (session 4) and in relation to more broader issues (session 5). These presentations are supplemented in two different ways: first, a world café format on the second day of the conference offers the possibility to discuss issues in a more open format. Second, the conference will start and end with keynote presentations – the first by Karin M. Ekström (University of Borås) and the second by Nicolas Nova (HEAD Genève) and François Ribac (University of Burgundy-Franche-Comté). The virtual format represents a challenge to the informal discussions that are usually an integral part of a conference. We do hope, however, that we are also able to provide the opportunity to socialize, for example with a digital aperitif on the evening of the first day.

 (1) Dr Sacha Kagan kindly compiled and provided us with a reading list that gives an overview of the research that has been done in the field of arts and sustainability in the last 10-20 years.

15 septembre 2020
  Actualités