Challenging culture to a greener more sustainable future

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Culture and the environment can be seen as counterbalancing each other, in the sense that nature is supposedly the antithesis of culture (Descola 2013). Yet culture was originally a noun of process, the tending of natural growth (Williams 1976: 87), and therefore closely allied to the natural environment. The current definition of culture often alludes to a process of human development (Williams 1976: 87) and this development has significantly impacted on our natural world, with the loss of biodiversity, plastic pollution, climate change and over-population of the human species. The arts are unfortunately interconnected to the more recent definition of culture, since they emanate from and reflect society, yet they also play a part in interpreting and shaping that society. The role of the arts within culture can be transformative, especially since the arts can act as a distant early warning system (McLuhan in Pruska Oldenhof and Logan 2017). Given this significant remit, the arts can promote societal discourse, assist with public education and even reshape society. However, these laudable ideas will fail if the gatekeepers and tastemakers of culture remain neutral. These cultural intermediaries must assist the artists, writers and creatives to develop new tools, redefine and reclassify the arts, in order to search for interdisciplinary approaches and discourse that can push the narrative of the environmental crisis to new audiences and possibly once again reframe the term culture towards the tending of the natural environment. After all, it is vital that every part of our society seeks a greener, more sustainable future.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 24 Jun 2020
EventFifteenth International Conference on the Arts in Society: Against the Grain: Arts and the Crisis of Democracy - Virtual, Galway, Ireland
Duration: 24 Jun 202026 Jun 2020


ConferenceFifteenth International Conference on the Arts in Society
Internet address


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