Sub-Themes > Track 4: The Art of Changing Habits - Aesthetic Research to Ecologize our Lifestyles

The Art of Changing Habits: Aesthetic Research to Ecologize our Lifestyles
(Presentation of Projects and Workshop)

Convenors/Track chairs:

  • Nicole Claasen, Africa Unit for Transdisciplinary Health Research, North-West University, South Africa
  • Joachim Froese, Artist/Lecturer for Photography, Queensland College of Art, Griffith University & Creative Industries, Queensland University of Technology, Brisbane, Australia
  • York Kautt, Institute for Sociology, Justus-Liebig-University Giessen, Germany
  • Susanne Walter, Design and Permaculture, Berlin, Germany

Description: The set 17 Sustainable Development Goals by the United Nations exemplify the complexity and variety of challenges to be addressed to achieve a more sustainable future for all, encompassing targets related to hunger, poverty, inequality, climate, environmental degradation, prosperity, and peace and justice (United Nations, 2018). It becomes evident that ‘hard measures’ (international and national policies and regulations) are critical towards more sustainability, but ‘soft measures’ that empower individuals and communities to changing behavior towards more sustainable lifestyles need urgent attention. Sustainability as a transdisciplinary endeavor provides a framework not only for collaboration among different knowledge experts but also for the sharing and creation of this knowledge among local and global communities with a multitude of opportunities to employ alternative pathways to change.

As empirical studies show, people are clinging to their unsustainable lifestyles against better knowledge (eg, Kennedy et al., 2009, Entzian 2015, Bleys 2018). Keeping in mind that democratic systems will have limited influence on lifestyles in the future, it becomes clear that the voluntary change of lifestyles represents a central challenge of (world-)society towards sustainable living. Promising are approaches that do not strive for more knowledge, but for social processes and aesthetic practices, with which individuals jointly experience, discuss and develop solutions that affect the real behavior (e.g. Fields & Sulaiman 2017). Furthermore it has been suggested that other, more embodied forms of tacit knowledge might also be considered as alternative pathways to understanding the world around us (e.g. Wheeler, 2006, Varela et al., 1991, Lawrence, 2012).

The proposed panel brings together organizers and participants from various disciplines (such as design, art, nutrition, permaculture, sociology, sufficiency research) to present and discuss ideas, concepts and projects that have been carried out or that have to be designed. The unifying, transdisciplinary focus is the search for social and aesthetic processes and practices that seek to transform everyday behaviors. "Aesthetic practice" is understood in the widest sense of aesthetic and artistic research as a practice bound to actions and experiences, which includes perceptions, emotions, interactions and creative processes as well as different materials, communication media, settings and actor constellations. This may include unique "artistic seeds" and events as well as long-term projects - such as the establishment of permaculture or a sharing platform via social media. The panel thus moves at the interface of art-based research (e.g. Barone & Eisner 2011), science as art (e.g. Feyerabend 1984) and of a "participatory design" (e.g. Cross Ed. 1972), in which design processes take place in collaboration with users.

Our workshop is particularly focusing on contributions from the lens of art-based research and participatory approaches in designing strategies towards behavior change towards sustainable lifestyles. We invite short impulse contributions (e.g. oral and video presentations, story-telling, art exhibition) that can stimulate an interactive design approach among all participants towards embracing sustainability in individual and community lives. To make the event as sustainable as possible, it will be possible to present projects via video conferences.

As such we invite contributions related to

  • Consumer perspectives on sustainability related to nutrition, health, gardening/agriculture, housing, clothing, mobility and travel from around the world (low to high-income countries)
  • Action and communication strategies that promote more sustainable lifestyles
  • Practical examples comprising esthetic approaches aiming at changing individual and community actions towards more sustainable living
  • Lessons learned on challenges and conflicts related to activating sustainable lifestyle changes
  • Ideas and concepts towards future activation processes for sustainable lifestyles and living.


Barone, T. & Eisner, E. (2011). Arts based research. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.

Bleys, B., Defloor, B., Van Ootegem, L., & Verhofstadt, E. (2018). The environmental impact of individual behavior: Self-assessment versus the ecological footprint. Environment and Behavior, 50 (2), 187-212. doi:

Cross, N. (Ed.) (1972). Design Participation. Proceedings of the Design Research Society’s Conference, Manchester, September 1971. London: Academy Editions.

Entzian, Annett. (2015). Denn sie tun nicht, was sie wissen. Eine Studie zu ökologischem Bewußtsein und Handeln. München: oekom.

Fields, Z. & Sulaiman O. A. (2017). Collective Green Creativity and Eco-Innovation as Key Drivers of Sustainable Business Solutions in Organizations. In: Z. Fields (Ed.). Collective creativity for responsible and sustainable business practice, pp. 1-25. Hershey: IGI Global.

Intergovernmental Panel of Climate Change (IPCC). 2018: Global warming of 1.5 °C – The IPCC special report on the impacts of global warming of 1.5

Kennedy, E. H., T. M. Beckley, B.L. McFarlane & S. Nadeau. (2009). Why don’t we >walk the talk<: Understanding the environmental values/behavior gap in Canada. Human ecology Review, 16, 151-160.

Lawrence, R. L. 2012. Bodies of knowledge: embodied learning in adult education, San Francisco, Jossey-Bass/Wiley.

Varela, F. J., Rosch, E. & Thompson, E. 1991. The embodied mind: cognitive science and human experience, Cambridge, Mass, MIT Press.

Wheeler, W. 2006. The Whole Creature: Complexity, Biosemiotics and the Evolution of Culture, London, Lawrence & Wishart.

World Wildlife Found (WWF). (2018). Living Planet Report 2018: Aiming higher.

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