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CoArt CoAct – Sustainability Through Art

“…under certain conditions, however, art—which not only reflects social reality but also criticizes society, thus forming it—is suited to the diagnosis and cure of its ills.”

(Arnold Hauser 1985, “Society as the Product of Art”, The Sociology of Art. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, p. 310)

“No one ever made a decision because of a number. They need a story.”

(Daniel Kahnemann in Lewis, Michael ‘The Undoing Project’)

Science have been telling us for decades that earth cannot accommodate our way of life.  However, we failed to act to trigger change and mend our system. Our failure to do so, at this time point in history brought us to the brink of extinction together with many other beings. Despite this emergency, we still fail to take action to respond to climate crisis at every level be it individual, organizational, national or global.  Despite the abundance of scientific evidence and the state of emergency why don’t we take action? The failure to take action is not limited to the climate crisis. If we take the commonly accepted Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) as a framework, we lack action to tackle with the problems defined in 17 SDGs and 169 Sustainable Development Targets (SDTs).

In our project CoArt CoAct, drawing on concepts like Arté Util (useful art) and art based intervention we are seeking ways to employ art in order to facilitate action toward solving global challenges. It is important that we evaluate the transformative impact of art on individuals and societies from a new perspective. Because art is beyond the data, statistics and reports that we constantly encounter; It can create an environment conducive to change by making visible the emotions and contradictions underlying the complex problems we face, facilitating empathy, and touching people’s hearts, minds and imaginations. In the CoArt CoAct project, art is employed as a tool that encourages, facilitates and accelerates our action in the Anthropocene Age.

The project comprises of 3 phases. The first phase is an exhibition consisting of artworks selected from Ozyegin University’s collection and reflecting each SDG. The exhibition is expected to foster discussions on SDGs and will form the basis of the project. The second phase is the talks with the artists of the artworks in the exhibition accompanied by specialists in the relevant field. The aim of the talks is to push the discussions triggered by the exhibition a few steps further bringing together art and science. The project’s final step is the workshops where students will work with artists to produce with sustainability in their minds further internalizing and communicating action towards the SDGs.

Okan Pala is a Co-director of Sustainability Platform, Ozyegin University, Turkey and he will be part of the panel to discuss “Art as a Vehicle for Social Change”

Art not only plays a vital role in society as a source of joy but it also plays a key role to encourage people to change. People around the world are drawing lessons from various forms of arts such as performing arts (theatre, music, dance etc), visual arts (drawing, painting, photography etc) to teach leadership, communication skills, create awareness about social issues & most importantly to ins till empathy. Moreover, the year 2021 is the International Year of Creative Economy for Sustainable Development.

In this context, it is pertinent to deliberate the need for business schools across the globe in using these art forms to make their graduates aware about grand challenges and encourage them to take up actions.The multi-stakeholder panel will foster dialogues on the importance of arts in various issues e.g. human rights, climate challenge and discuss various examples of arts integration into the business school curricula and other activities to advance the 2030 agenda.

Okan Pala

Co-Director of Sustainability Platform, Ozyegin University

Okan Pala is the co-director of Sustainability Platform at OzU. He holds a BA and an MA degree in Economics from Ankara University Faculty of Political Sciences and University of East Anglia respectively. Pala is involved in a bunch of different projects on different dimensions of sustainability. His focus is on but not limited to poverty, social inclusion and empowerment of disadvantaged communities (especially Romani communities) and local development. He also contributes to other projects such as the creation of Smart Cities Technology Roadmap with TUSIAD and TURKONFED, curating the Sustainability Talks series at Ozyegin University and organisation of the volunteering system of the whole FIBA Holding (FIba Volunteers 2.0).