NEW COURSE: Environmental Humanities – Wageningen goes Arts & Design

Published on
January 21, 2014

Period 5 - 3 ECTS (capita selecta)

Increasingly, contemporary artists and designers are turning to themes such as nature, food, animals, poverty, and the environment. In this course we will look at a variety of these works: from Christien Meindertsma’s book on everything that is made from a pig, to Natalie Jeremijenko’s interactive devices to communicate with urban wildlife, and Renzo Martens’s ‘Enjoy Poverty’ documentary. We will study what kinds of strategies these designers use, and what kinds of public responses their work generates.

In weekly meetings we will discuss these in relation to fragments of older work in the environmental humanities (philosophy, literature, film, etc): From Jonathan Swift’s satire on hunger and Rachel Carson’s literary description of marine ecology, to Franz Kafka’s short story on a speaking ape.  As part of the course you will write a brief essay on a ‘Wageningen’ topic of your own choice, for example: How could we communicate with soil life? Should we learn to eat insects? How can we relate to global poverty? How could we already experience climate change? What are we to think of invasive species?

We will then take these essays to the RIETVELD ACADEMY OF ARTS AMSTERDAM, ‘DESIGN-LAB’, where students inspired by your ideas and in conversation with you will create some device, product, gadget, installation, etc. These works will then be exhibited in Wageningen.

After successfully finishing this course you will be able to:

  • Reflect on the relation between science, technology and the arts, and analyse the forms of knowledge and types of cultural intervention explored in artistic design.
  • Critically discuss the role of representation and experience within societal debates of environmental issues and sustainability.
  • Understand how culture, creativity and the imagination may influence technological innovation.
  • Appreciate the relevance of contemporary art for life in the Anthropocene.