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Invest In Blue: Society and Sea conference | Greenwich | 6 & 7 September 2018


WORKSHOP | Thresholds: Art, Social Impacts, and Reinvention | Are we going about it all wrong? Tell you what – let’s throw a bunch of artists and a geographer from the States plus an Irish public engagement specialist in the FEC-ing mix and explore how we can make Sustainable Development Goal 14 Life Below Water more prominent on peoples agenda….so the scene setting began for a workshop session held at the second Society and Sea conference where we explored how Art could facilitate, ignite and support Global Coastal sustainability.

Connecting Art & Science in Support of Coastal Sustainability Development

In a world of constantly shifting biophysical and social realities, we face an ever-evolving and urgent need for new ideas around the conception and realisation of sustainable development. This is especially pertinent in coastal land and sea spaces: spaces where the greatest confluence of societal activities occurs and some of the most productive and dynamic natural systems must co-exist. Despite continued discourse around the importance of the oceans and coasts, epitomised by Sustainable Development Goal 14, Life Below Water, gaining traction remains agonisingly slow when it comes to shifting behaviours or resonating with society on a broader scale.  But how do we broaden the conversation? How do we change our own operating procedures in order to galvanise momentum for action?

We all recognise that people process knowledge and communicate that knowledge differently. Historically there has been a strong connection between the Arts and Sciences, just think of the work of Leonardo da Vinci who is recognised as a master of Art and Science. Both Science and Art share a common motivation and goal to understand and describe the world around us. Art, in its many and varied forms, has the liberty and ability to generate shifts in social perceptions and behaviors in ways that science and data alone currently do not. An immediate need to reinvigorate linkages between the arts and sciences is in order to address urgent issues of our time. It is around this statement that a long-held dream was dragged into reality during the Society and the Sea Conference in Greenwich, UK (Sept 6-7th).

Despite recognition of the need to connect art and science more closely, truly integrated, co-designed, and co-produced collaborations between art and science disciplines are still rare. We (FEC) in collaboration with two talented artists (Lisa Beth Robinson and Kristin Thielking from East Carolina University and the University of Wisconsin respectively), an author and geographer (Mrill Ingram) and a communication and engagement specialist (Aoife Dean from MaREI) are attempting to do our bit to change this.

Our session at Society and the Sea, entitled Thresholds: Art, Social Impact and Reinvention, engaged both artists and scientists in a facilitated knowledge exchange designed to generate collaborative pathways for action. By discussing past and current projects, as well as future aspirations, we were able to outline opportunities and challenges for art-science integration throughout project instigation, execution, and sustainability phases.

What’s Art got to do with it?
Read the full joint blog post on the
Future Earth Coasts website. 

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