Environmental Art, Ethics & Agency.

(Re)Connecting students to our ever-evolving natural and manmade environments through art and exploration.

Photo of Angela Costanzo Paris
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Fostering exploratory conversations around ethics, impact and our students' sense of personal agency is at the heart of this idea. To foster a relationship to both our natural and manmade environments, and to do so in a way that encompasses intentional, aesthetic choices, is to allow for our students to really connect with something they may not know they care about in a creative way. This encompasses teaching engagement, not spectatorship. Students can begin to think about creative solutions to issues that warrant the innovation necessary to implement sustainable change in today's world while creating work with purpose.

Perhaps this involves building cairns on campus while we consider our impact on the environment, or carrying a day's garbage in order to publicly highlight our rate of consumption. Perhaps this means exploring societal inequities, environmental issues, or issues of food democracy through research, immersion, and student-driven visual commentary. Regardless of topic, exploring the horrors and beauties of our time in an experiential way is a way for our students to CONNECT to and communicate what is important to them.             

How does this idea help to spark student curiosity?

Giving students the opportunity to face the issues of our time through both aesthetic and experiential learning will allow them to forge their own relationships to the issues we face today (and tomorrow). The more that is unearthed, the more questions they will inherently ask, thus spurring a charge for change, whether personal or global, large-scale or small.

What grade level is this idea most appropriate for?

  • All of the above


Join the conversation:

Photo of Cole Godvin

Hello Angela,
Cole from The Nueva School here. Fostering a connection between the environment and artistic expression is such a great approach to contemporary arts education. Have you integrated problem solving in this activity or is it more about raising awareness?

Photo of Angela Costanzo Paris

Hi Cole,
Raising awareness is definitely a goal, but problem solving is the ultimate end goal, whether that takes place with me in class, or in ten years. In the beginning, the idea was more about presenting an opportunity to gain knowledge through an objective lens. However, since studying social entrepreneurship in grad school, I have expanded this approach to include the artist-as-social-innovator. My two worlds collided.

I have yet to integrate this next part, but I did create a plan for students to identify an issue and, as both an artist and social entrepreneur, devise a plan to creatively comment and help resolve the issue. I'd love to hear other thoughts though on how to expand this.

Thanks for your question, Cole!