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TAPS 26Q: Can Beauty Save the World?: Climate Change and the Arts

Application Deadline: November 4

General Education Requirements

Way CE

Course Description

Modified Description provided for Soph Seminar TAPS 26Q: Today, there is a prevailing opinion by specialists and non-specialists alike that climate change is almost impossible to represent in art because, unlike the weather, climate cannot be directly experienced. Further, this leads to the belief that climate is an extremely complex phenomenon can be understood only through data and modeling, which are in the domain of science. This failure of artistic representation applies to traditional media, such as easel painting and living room drama. In this class, we explore a rich repository of artworks that are addressing climate change in effective and often moving ways, in which artists transform the existing and invent new media in order to be able to capture the changes all of us are experiencing. Because of that, this class is interdisciplinary: we are looking at literature, visual arts, film, digital media, performance, and even cooking to explore creative ways in which artists engage the problem of climate change. 

This class is an exploration of the ways in which the arts can contribute to the general understanding of the climate crisis and, more importantly, of the ways in which they can and do contribute to the containment and reversal of global warming. The aim of the class is to help students formulate their ideas in different artistic media and take them out into the world. In this class, we will talk to artists who are working on climate change and ecology, visit artworks, and go on a field trip. The students are invited to conceptualize artworks in any medium (visual art, film, dance, literature, digital) that address specific climate issues.

Meet the Instructor: Branislav Jakovljević

Branislav Jakovljević

"For as long as I can remember, I have been interested in social aspects of various forms of art.  Over the past few years, I became convinced that climate is the most urgent subject of any social action. In teaching this class and thinking about climate crisis, I learned that there is no use in despairing and imagining dystopian scenarios. Instead, the challenge is to reimagine the role of the arts in the society, their purpose and the very forms we are using to make art..  One of the beautiful challenges of this work is how to present scientific ideas in a way that is understandable to everyone. Speaking of art that is addressing climate change, the great Aamerican art  historian Lucy Lippard said that “while the scientists like to remain ‘objective’, artists resist restrictions.” In teaching this class, I take my cue from her, and invite students to overcome real and imaginary restrictions that are constraining our imagination."