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Learning about climate change in, with an through art – new article

How does one engage young people with a topic that is perceived as abstract, distant, and complex, and which at the same time is contributing to growing feelings of sadness, hopelessness, and anxiety among them?

In a new paper, published in Climatic Change, I argue that although the important contributions that the arts and humanities can make to this challenge are widely discussed, they remain an untapped or underutilized potential. I present a novel framework and demonstrate its use in schools. Art can play a central place in climate change education and engagement more general, with avenues for greater depth of learning and transformative potential.

The paper provides guidance for involvement in, with, and through art and makes suggestions to create links between disciplines to support meaning making, create new images, and metaphors and bring in a wider solution space for climate change. Going beyond the stereotypes of art as communication and mainstream climate change education, it offers teachers, facilitators, and researchers a wider portfolio for climate change engagement that makes use of the multiple potentials of the arts.

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Odisseia Pelo Clima – video

What a joy! It took a while but here it is: a short video of the Climate Odyssey public performance.

The whole adventure started back in 2017 when Sara Dal Corso and I, developed the idea of a community theatre project on climate change. After two years of applying for funding, we could finally start in the beginning of 2019 with a very limited budget. Over a 3,5-months period we engaged 15 project participants in weekly interactive art-&-science workshopsInspirations were endangered species, climate fiction, historic events, utopian visions and many others. From these inspirations small performances started to crystallize and the play was created. The public performance took place at Festival de Telheiras, Lisbon, 26 May 2019. We had three sold out shows! To us it was moving, special and inspirational. It showed the power of community and the importance of meaning-making to create climate action. Luckily Guilherme Ornelas was there to film it to capture the moment and later Elisa Purfürst could edit it.

Thank you all!

JB

ART FOR CHANGE: open access article

What’s the potential of art and transformative learning to empower young people to address climate change?

In this new article, Julia Bentz and Karen O’Brien explore how climate-related art projects in education shift mindsets and open up imaginative spaces where students explored and discovered their role in addressing climate change and sustainability challenges.

Read the open access article at: https://www.elementascience.org/artic…/10.1525/elementa.390/

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Young people represent a powerful force for social change, and they have an important role to play in climate change responses. However, empowering young people to be “systems changers” is not straightforward. It is particularly challenging within educational systems that prioritize instrumental learning over critical thinking and creative actions. History has shown that by creating novel spaces for reflexivity and experimentation, the arts have played a role in shifting mindsets and opening up new political horizons. In this paper, we explore the role of art as a driver for societal transformation in a changing climate and consider how an experiment with change can facilitate reflection on relationships between individual change and systems change. Following a review of the literature on transformations, transformative learning and the role of art, we describe an experiment with change carried out with students at an Art High School in Lisbon, Portugal, which involved choosing one sustainable behavior and adopting it for 30 days. A transformative program encouraged regular reflection and group discussions. During the experiment, students started developing an art project about his or her experience with change. The results show that a transformative learning approach that engages students with art can support critical thinking and climate change awareness, new perspectives and a sense of empowerment. Experiential, arts-based approaches also have the potential to create direct and indirect effects beyond the involved participants. We conclude that climate-related art projects can serve as more than a form of science communication. They represent a process of opening up imaginative spaces where audiences can move more freely and reconsider the role of humans as responsible beings with agency and a stake in sustainability transformations.
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Young people at the European Climate Change Adaptation conference

Being part of the Organising Committee of the European Climate Change Adaptation Conference 2019, which took place 28-30 May in Lisbon, one of my tasks was to involve youth in the conference. I organised an art exhibition with young artists and produced a video together with my sister Johanna Bentz.

The idea was to meaningfully and creatively engage young people and give them a voice to express themselves about climate change and possible responses. The video was co-produced with and about young people and their views on climate change. Students of Antonio Arroio Art High School and St. Julian’s School, Lisbon were interviewed about their perceptions of climate change responses. The film project aims to raise awareness and climate change​ engagement. The video was displayed for the first time in the Closing Plenary of ECCA and is currently being distributed in social media.

Worldwide, there are few young people participating in public decisions around climate change. These same young people are disproportionately affected by disasters and climate change hazards: they have limited voices in the decisions and policies related to disaster risk reduction, climate change adaptation, and community resilience despite calls for their empowerment as important stakeholders in these issues. In addition, young people will grow to fill leadership roles in decision-making organisations, while inheriting the consequences of climate change, policies and actions that are co-constructed today. Actively engaging and empowering children and young people to address the complex problems of climate change is a critical step to achieving resilience at local, regional, and national levels.

Art at the European Climate Change Adaptation conference

For the 4th European Climate Change Adaptation conference which took place in Lisbon between 28 and 30 May 2019, I curated and organised an art program. It consisted of a live performance, two exhibitions, and a children’s choir concert.

The conference opened with a live music and video performance by Tone Bjordam and Marten Scheffer. They performed a new work specially composed for the conference, built upon a recent article co-authored by Scheffer entitled Trajectories of the Earth System in the Anthropocene. This art and science collaboration aimed to provide the audience with a multi-sensory experience showcasing a transdisciplinary approach to the climate challenge.

 

 

 

 

An exhibition of Tone Bjordam’s paintings, inspired by different biotopes, was hosted at the conference. The drive behind the Norwegian artist’s practice is to create a space for reflection around processes in nature, and to achieve an in-depth understanding and a sense of feeling connected with nature around us. Bjordam has a Master’s Degree in Fine Arts from Oslo National Academy of the Arts and her work has been on display in numerous countries around the world. Bjordam is particularly interested in finding ways to communicate science through art, especially the wonder that drives science.

 

 

 

 

ECCA also hosted an exhibition of work from young artists. Entitled Art for Change, it is the result of a collaboration between Artistic Secondary School Antonio Arroio, Lisbon and the Art for Adaptation project. More than 80 students of grades 11 and 12 engaged with climate change through transformative learning approaches, by approaching change as an experiment, and through climate fiction.

 

 

 

 

Their artworks reflect their newly gained insights and critical thinking about the subject (Check out the supporting website created by the students to read about the rational behind the artworks). The exhibition integrated posters produced with silk print and stencil techniques, and objects which aim to question, highlight and reflect different aspects of climate change. Art for Change aims to empower young people to explore new climate narratives and solutions, help to visualise the connection between global climate change and our daily actions, and reflect on the implications of individual and collective change towards more sustainable forms of living.

 

 

 

 

Finally, the conference closed with a musical performance by the children’s choir of Santo Amaro de Oeiras, Lisbon. This choir participated in 2012 in the Global Rockstar competition, promoted by the United Nations, winning the first place with the song “My blue planet” and representing Portugal at the Rio+20 Summit in Rio de Janeiro. The choir has taken part in recordings and performances with several international artists, including Mara Abrantes, Suzy Paula, Secret Lie, and Lemm Project.

 

 

 

 

 

Odisseia Pelo Clima – THANK YOU ALL

What an amazing day! What wonderful experience to show our performance to the public. A huge thank you to all who came to see it, to the participants, and the team!! TAUSEND DANK

In weekly interactive workshops during four months we reflected and shared knowledge and perspectives on climate change. In a co-creational approach that both involves artistic and scientific methods we collected many ideas that contributed to the generation of our community theatre play “Odisseia Pelo Clima” (Odyssey for the Climate). Inspirations were endangered species, climate fiction, historic events, utopian visions and many others. From these inspirations small performances started to crystallise and we created the play. See below some pictures from our three (sold out!) performances on the 26th of May 2019.

Photos by Ana Isa Mourinho

 

Odisseia Pelo Clima | apresentação pública 26 Maio 2019

Chegou um momento muito especial para nos: a APRESENTAÇÃO PÚBLICA da Odisseia Pelo Clima!

Criada em conjunto com os habitantes do bairro de Telheiras ao longo de 3 meses, a Odisseia Pelo Clima é um percurso performativo sobre alterações climáticas. Apoiou-se num processo interativo de sessões de arte-&-ciência, apresentando novas abordagens de investigação-ação face ao tema das alterações climáticas. A Odisseia Pelo Clima pretende contribuir para uma maior consciencialização e empenho dos participantes e do público relativamente ao assunto.

Haverá 3 apresentações da Odisseia Pelo Clima no 26 de Maio, às 16h, 17h e 18h (duração 70-85 min). Cada apresentação tem um limite de 25 pessoas. Inscrição previa através do email odisseiapeloclima@gmail.com ou no local dependendo de vagas disponíveis.
Partida da Odisseia será no Jardim Professor Francisco Caldeira Cabral
(ponto de encontro 15 minutos antes da apresentação)
Evento Facebook.
A Odisseia Pelo Clima foi concebida pela Julia Bentz e a Sara Dal Corso com o apoio/consultoria de Letícia do Carmo e a ajuda de Jörn Schirok.

Com:
Ana Filipa Fernandes
Bárbara Pinheiro
Daniela Rato
Guilherme Weishar
Inês dos Santos Silva Machado
Joaquim Conceição
Joern Schirok
Julia Bentz
Leticia do Carmo
Madalena Horta
Manuel Antonio da Silva
Maria Inês Costa
Maria Margarida Costa
Mariana Melo Sales
Mariana Pereira
Melissa Catherine Loja
Noemi Luna Carmeno
Sara Dal Corso
Valeriy Zota

“Odisseia Pelo Clima” – having fun and creating a play!

In weekly interactive workshops we have been reflecting and sharing knowledge and perspectives on climate change. We have also been creatively playing with and dancing (!) about many different ideas related to it. This process has been inspiring and loads of fun!

In a co-creational approach that both involves artistic and scientific methods we have collected many ideas that are contributing to the generation of our community theatre play “Odisseia Pelo Clima” (Odyssey for the Climate). Inspirations have been endangered species, climate fiction, historic events, utopian visions and many others. Some small performances are already crystallising.

If that sparked your interest, block the 26th of May 2019 in your calendar, because that’s when we will have the public performance within the local Festival Telheiras in Lisbon. More updates soon!

 

 

ART FOR ADAPTATION @ ECCA2019

I am excited to curate the art program at this year’s European Climate Change Adaptation conference (ECCA) to be hosted in Lisbon from 28–31 May 2019. A program of thought-provoking art, including visual art and music is being developed exploring alternative ways of communicating and engaging people in the complexities of climate change.

Some highlights of the Art Program:

The conference will open with a live music and video performance by Tone Bjordam and Marten Scheffer. They will perform a new work specially composed for the conference, built upon a recent article co-authored by Scheffer entitled Trajectories of the Earth System in the Anthropocene. This art and science collaboration aims to provide the audience with a multi-sensory experience showcasing a transdisciplinary approach to the climate challenge.

An exhibition of Tone Bjordam’s paintings, inspired by different biotopes, will be hosted at the conference. The drive behind the Norwegian artist’s practice is to create a space for reflection around processes in nature, and to achieve an in-depth understanding and a sense of feeling connected with nature around us. Bjordam has a Master’s Degree in Fine Arts from Oslo National Academy of the Arts and her work has been on display in numerous countries around the world. Bjordam is particularly interested in finding ways to communicate science through art, especially the wonder that drives science.

Marten Scheffer is interested in unraveling the mechanisms that determine the stability and resilience of complex systems. Although much of his work has focused on ecosystems, he also worked with a range of scientists from other disciplines to address issues of stability and shifts in natural and social systems. With the help of a Spinoza award and an ERC advanced grant he founded SparcS and now works on finding generic early warning signals for critical transitions. He also co-founded the South American Institute for Resilience and Sustainability Studies (SARAS) and is currently a distinguished professor in ecology and mathematical biology at Wageningen University.

ECCA will also host an exhibition of work from young artists. Entitled Art For Change, it is the result of a collaboration between Artistic Secondary School Antonio Arroio, Lisbon and project Art for Adaptation. 80 eleventh and twelvth-grade students engaged with climate change through transformative learning approaches, by approaching change as an experiment, and through climate fiction. Their artworks reflect their newly gained insights and critical thinking about the subject. The exhibition integrates posters produced with silk print and stencil techniques, and objects which aim to question, highlight and reflect different aspects of climate change. Art For Change aims to empower young people to explore new climate narratives and solutions, help to visualise the connection between global climate change and our daily actions, and reflect on the implications of individual and collective change towards more sustainable forms of living.

Parallel to the scientific program, conference participants are invited to the Art Room, where short films and videos on climate change will be shown.

Finally, the conference will close with a musical performance by the children’s choir of Santo Amaro de Oeiras, Lisbon. This choir participated in 2012 in the Global Rockstar competition, promoted by the United Nations, winning the first place with the song “My blue planet” and representing Portugal at the Rio+20 Summit in Rio de Janeiro. The choir has taken part in recordings and performances with several international artists, including Mara Abrantes, Suzy Paula, Michael Jackson, Secret Lie, and Lemm Project.

Open call for participants in community theatre (in Portuguese)

O bairro de Telheiras vai acolher ao longo dos próximos meses o projecto artístico “Odisseia pelo Clima” e convida os Lisboetas a participar!

A “Odisseia pelo Clima” é um projecto de teatro de comunidade que pretende criar novas abordagens à temática das alterações climáticas através de elementos artísticos e participativos e, assim, aumentar a consciência e o empenho para as alterações climáticas.

Num processo interactivo de sessões de arte-&-ciência semanais, facilitadas por uma equipa profissional, os participantes cocriarão um conjunto de performances sobre alterações climáticas que serão encenadas ao longo de um percurso na zona de Telheiras. Este projecto de teatro de comunidade decorrerá entre meados de Fevereiro e final de Maio de 2019 e terá no final um espectáculo que será apresentado no âmbito do Festival Telheiras.

A “Odisseia pelo Clima” contará com a participação voluntária de membros da comunidade local com disponibilidade de tempo para as sessões interactivas e ensaios. É um projecto para pessoas de todas as idades e não é necessário ter qualquer experiência prévia; o importante é a vontade de participar!

Os ensaios terão lugar às terças-feiras entre as 15:30 e as 17:00, no Lagar da Quinta de S. Vicente. O arranque do projecto será no dia 19 de Fevereiro, numa sessão aberta a todos os interessados. A inscrição implica o pagamento de um valor de 15€ (pagamento único). Se quiser participar, pode inscrever-se através do email jhbentz@fc.ul.pt. Para mais informações, poderá contactar o mesmo email ou utilizar o 91 001 73 92.

A ideia da “Odisseia pelo Clima” foi inspirada no projecto “Art du gest dans la Méditerranée” que desenhou e implementou percursos na cidade de Marselha e na região de Provença, entre 2010 e 2013, no âmbito da Capital Europeia da Cultura de 2013, com direção artística de Virgilio Sieni e assistência artística de Sara Dal Corso.

O projecto é promovido pelo programa pós-doutoral Art For Adaptation em parceria com a Junta de Freguesia do Lumiar. A equipa é constituída por 4 elementos:

  • Julia Bentz (investigadora no grupo das Alterações Climáticas (CCIAM) da Faculdade de Ciências, Universidade de Lisboa)
  • Sara dal Corso (artista independente e professora de dança, yoga e teatro)
  • Letícia do Carmo (arquitecta, ilustradora e investigadora)
  • Joern Schirok (aluno de mestrado em Geografia)

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