Culture/SHIFT: From communication to integration for transformational change


Climate change is a product of the ways in which we live and is therefore as much a cultural issue as a scientific or technical one. The arts are the expression of our culture and are therefore also a way of understanding, interrogating and changing wider society. However, the role of the arts in the context of climate change is often confined to a communication of scientific facts, negating a much wider set of creative approaches and ways of thinking that could be usefully brought to the area.

Drawing on a range of Scotland-based and international examples, this T-lab will provide participants with deeper insight into a series of case studies addressing a range of themes concerning sustainable development and climate change. Case studies include:

  • Aberdeen Adapts: Engaging communities in climate adaptation through art (Ruth Wolstenholme, Sniffer)
  • Museums of the FutureNow: Translating systems thinking into practice (Mike Bonaventura, ClimateXChange & Museum of FutureNow)
  • River Ways: A Future Heritage for Hawick, combining arts and community renewables (Claire Pencak, independent dancer and choreographer)
  • Embedding arts in the transformation of Dumfries town centre (Matt Baker, The Stove Network)

Learning through case studies, attendees will participate in breakout sessions focused on collaborative working between artistic, academic and policy fields, working as a group on examples of wicked problems. You are invited to submit your own wicked problems for use in this part of the workshop. Breakout sessions will be shaped through key themes, developed by Creative Carbon Scotland including:

  • Approaching complex questions and wicked problems, associated with environmental sustainability and climate change;
  • Making the invisible visible, revealing hidden and underlying structures which impact upon environmental sustainability of current and future societies;
  • Exploring the contradictions and compromises associated with the transition to a more sustainable future, and holding conflicting ideas in tension;
  • Moving beyond communication, re-expressing for different audiences the scientific, social and philosophical ideas and concepts associated with the transition to a more sustainable future.

Participants will gain:

  • New knowledge of case study examples to use and further their own work and thinking.
  • Stronger understandings of the specific ways in which artistic practices could be used within their fields in order to contribute to transformational change.
  • Stronger understanding of key elements which lead to successful collaborations between artistic and sustainability worlds of work.
  • New connections within the fields of the arts and environmental sustainability, and confidence in bringing together these areas in their work.

Intended Audience

This workshop is open to anyone working within or across academic and non-academic fields related to Sustainable Development and climate change including climate sciences, social sciences, arts and humanities, planning and policy-making. We would hope to achieve a strong representation across different perspectives and disciplines to achieve a vibrant and holistic level of discussion.