"I find it very worrying that we don’t talk about nature anymore. We talk about natural resources as if everything had a price tag. You cannot buy spiritual values at a shopping mall. An old-growth forest, a clear river, the flight of a golden eagle, the howl of a wolf, the vitality of a tiger, space and quiet without motors, TVs, mobiles — these are intangibles. Those are the values that people need, that uplift our spirit."
~ George B. Schaller
"We often forget that we are nature. Nature is not something separate from us. So when we say that we have lost our connection to nature, we’ve lost our connection to ourselves."
- Andy Goldsworthy
Sarvam, Sarvatmakam - Everything is related to the whole, Vyasa, Yoga Sutra Bhasya
Students on site, Photo Courtesy: Srishti Films
The Earth Education and Communication course at Srishti encourages students to get inspired by the relationships they personally form with the natural world as a complex system of interdependence and co-existence amidst survival and sustenance. We observe and investigate the porous boundaries that connect the human and more-than-human worlds with wonder and celebration. Most environmental concerns do not fit neatly into any one disciplinary knowledge system. We place significant value on interdisciplinary and transdisciplinary problem solving.
While there are many worldviews and contentious viewpoints in allied fields that deal with environmental issues, in this course we critically inquire into "being human" and if it is possible to achieve a symbiotic relationship with the evolving natural world around us. We see humans as a species powered through centuries of evolution and the environment, a piece in a complex intricate puzzle and not at the top of the food chain or at the apex of power. We choose to ask- As an intelligent species how do we consciously engage with the natural world at work around us? Can we create symbiotic relationships that are driven by the intelligence of the body in its sensorial relationships with life?
What are the ethics and philosophies that can help us engage with conflicts, painful realities and contentious debates? How can art, design and technology be used to push the boundaries of ecological discourse and create points for action? What can traditional practices from different cultures offer in the way of wisdom to all that we grapple with in environmental issues today? These and more questions serve as a guide map to engaging with and creating within this program. This course is an attempt to explore how polarised, `silo-ised’ views in conversations and debates around environmental issues can be made to gradually come together and overlap, dissolving discipline based perceptions and preconceived ideas, allowing for new discourses to emerge.
Art inspired by animals in action (Ananya Singh. Zoo Project), Photo Courtesy: Anupama Arun
This course focuses on experiential learning and deep engagement with specific sites to develop context –sensitive and reflexive frameworks. It also builds theoretical frameworks that support students in understanding contextual and critical perspectives in this area of work. In these sites, an exploration is about a hands-on engagement with people and their lives, local flora and fauna and the land itself. As Jane Goodall articulates “Only if we understand, can we care. Only if we care, we will help. Only if we help, we shall be saved.”
This course is open to art and design practitioners and non-practitioners alike. We believe in creating student cohorts from diverse disciplines to allow for critical debates, engagements and new discourses. The goal of this course is to inspire people from diverse disciplines who seek to build their practices in an ecological frame. It is for people who desire to inspire intrinsic action through their communication methods, using diverse media, educational interventions and lived experiences. The impact of this deepening awareness is finally seen in art and design solutions, thought frameworks, critical discourses that emerge, transdisciplinary thinking, and involved engagement that is context sensitive and reflective. It also reflects in fostering long-term relationships with people and organizations on the ground. Through this course, we hope dissolving boundaries will open new relationships with LIFE in all its diversity and wonderment embedded in ecological consciousness.
Compassion and Interdependence
Courage in Choice making
Humility in approach
Equity and Justice
Field trip in Andaman by CERTAD, Photo Courtesy: Padmini Nagaraja
Modes of Delivery are as follows:
- Studios encourage active, contextual learning where students develop core disciplinary skills and knowledge. Studios facilitate collaborative and creative design solutions to complex, open-ended problems
- Workshops provide intense learning experiences in making and doing, across the different disciplines.
- Internship with an industry or a design studio is compulsory for students at the end of 1st year
- Self Initiated Project is an end of the semester challenge that allows the student to engage in research / enquiry or design based projects. Students begin by writing their project proposal and defining the scope of their project and they are mentored by faculty / design professionals.
- Electives are Liberal Arts courses aimed to cultivate intellectual and reflective abilities in students and motivate them to probe deeper and approach their design process in a holistic manner.
- Capstone Project is the culmination of the research, capabilities and knowledge gained over the last three semesters. Students are required to submit their design output and a mandated thesis document. Students are mentored during this final project and go through seminars to get feedback from faculty and peer groups.
Storytelling with local school children (Project: Katha), Photo Courtesy: Srivi Kalyan
This course uses the following learning approaches to deliver the 3 modules that have been described.
- Designed as case studies. To foster a deep understanding of biogeography, human geography, state policies, local communities and livelihood practices, endemic and native species of flora and fauna by immersion in one or more sites.
- Immersion at site and designed for action. To take the learnings from immersive field trips and expeditions; and extend, deepen and transform them into action.
- Participatory approaches. To understand the diversity of a space and those who inhabit it in a deep and nuanced way, over a period of time, using well designed sensitive and equitable tools and methods.
- Project Based Learning. To actively explore real world challenges, conflicts and problems within timelines with context-sensitivity.
- Art and Design Research Methods: To engage with art and design research methods to push the boundaries of discourses in conservation, ecology, eco-ethics and eco-philosophy and eco-aesthetics.
- Ability to reflect on interdependence and co-existence through reflective immersion and compassion
- Ability to work with chosen media in an embodied practice towards awareness, communication, advocacy or a way of being.
- Ability to build a guiding principle for life, a way of being and making which places the earth first.
Students shooting a film, Photo Courtesy: Srishti Films
The above mentioned capability sets could lead to opportunities such as:
- You can work as curators in museums and galleries.
- You can work with publishing houses, design studios, to create awareness campaigns, environmental films and documentaries.
- You can design teaching and learning aids that foster environmental sensitivity.
- You can work at NGOs/ organizations that work with social and ecological concerns.
- You can continue your art/ design practice, be an entrepreneur or a design consultant with a strong environmental ethic.
- You can work in zoological parks and aquaria.
- You can pursue your research and continue to do a PhD.
The program in Earth Education is informed by the following learning disciplines:
Ecology and Environment
Experimental Media Arts
Mathematics and Physical Sciences
Policy Studies and Environmental law
Urban Studies and Design
Visual Communication Design
Research and Collaboration
The program is closely linked with a wide range research and practice spaces:
Design+Environment+Law Laboratory (DEL Laboratory)
Learning Network on Sustainability (LeNS)-India