The pressing environmental-ecological problems of our time are highly complex, interconnected, and nonlinear phenomena. The sciences are under pressure to provide precise, rational and conclusive answers, yet unambiguous evidence of causes and effects seem to make problem solving a mission impossible. The public’s attitude toward life is more and more shaped by dystopian projections of the future and “gloom and doom” visions, which seem to have a rather paralyzing effect on individuals and tend to hinder their willingness to actively change their behavior – a behavioral change that would, however, be urgently needed for transformative change.

Arts and Sciences

With Symbio(s)cene, we want to stir away from dystopic visions and misanthropic world views and we want to question the exclusive attention on rational solution strategies to address environmental-ecological problems. We propose to reunite the distinct cultures of arts and sciences once more, after a clear separation since the nineteenth century. Despite their different knowledge cultures, art and science have always been very closely linked due to their motivations and goals which are fundamentally the same: Trying to understand and to make sense of the world around us.

Cognitive and emotional dimensions of knowledge

With Symbio(s)cene, we want to demonstrate that interconnecting sciences and arts allows to give space to cognitive as well as emotional dimensions of knowledge. Today’s complex problems and transdisciplinary settings create challenges that are difficult to address with traditional processes and require novel approaches. In order to be able to tackle those complex problems, it is essential to start with understanding the world, which not only involves scientific research and intellectual reflections, but also sensory perceptions and emotions. Human capacities for cognitive processing are bounded and can be enhanced by using all our senses. Re-uniting arts and sciences can therefore foster deeper understanding, unleash creative resources, and can even motivate action.

Novel approaches

Symbio(s)cene therefore aims at exploring the potential of such holistic, encompassing approaches for triggering and enhancing transformative change. In this context we focus on the one hand on bringing to light works and projects from art and science that already contain such holistic elements. On the other hand, the initiative aims to generate new knowledge and to enlarge human understanding through art-science collaboration and through methods, such as Arts-based Research, Design Thinking, Embodied Sensemaking, and Storytelling, in order to support people in unleashing their potential to shape a renewed, positive and sustainable human-nature relationship.

Examples of Art-based Methods

The following images show some impressions from a workshop where Design Thinking methods and an Embodied Sensemaking approach were utilized to foster the understanding of a complex situation, to facilitate the communication between different disciplines and to enable the modeling of solution strategies.

Culturesphere, Strategy, Workshop, Co-Creation, Prof. Oliver Szasz
Culturesphere, Strategy, Workshop, Co-Creation, Prof. Oliver Szasz
Culturesphere, Strategy, Workshop, Co-Creation, Prof. Oliver Szasz
Culturesphere, Strategy, Workshop, Co-Creation, Prof. Oliver Szasz
Embodied Sensemaking, Culturesphere, Ingrid Ruegemer, Oliver Szasz