What does art have to do with the Earth’s climate?

To me, sustainability means… assuming social, ecological, and economic responsibility on a societal level and manifesting the collective power and energy that it takes to effect sustainable changes to our accustomed way of life in light of the great global challenges that we face. Sustainability is a relevant topic in numerous different realms and always has an effect on the greater whole. And I also understand sustainability to mean daring to peer into the future and, informed by this perspective, living my life in a more conscious way.

Climate change is relevant to the cultural world because… artists have the opportunity to engage in exchange with others and to use their art to convey important socio-political messages. Furthermore, the practice of art frequently requires a high degree of mobility, which always also gives rise to the question of how I, as an artist or an ensemble, travel and what personal contribution I can make to CO2 reduction through my transportation-related choices.

© Sabine Hauswirth

Art can change the world by… entering into diaolgue with society. I believe that art is capable of acting as a translator, presenting difficult and complex themes in ways that reach people and evoke reflection. Art has unbelievable potential in terms of how it’s able to touch people and call forth emotions, reaching them on an entirely different level than language alone.

Climate change makes itself noticed in my work as… the fact that many colleagues and students have been taking steps together with the Rectorate in recent years in order to anchor the theme of sustainability in the most varied areas. This commitment shows the extent to which climate change has also reached us, as a university. We, too, must make our own institutional contribution towards reaching the 1.5° C climate goal.

My personal contribution to climate protection is… my focus on making more conscious life choices. With my purchase of a “KlimaTicket Ö”, I’ve made it my goal to take the train more often in everyday life as well as on trips abroad. And it’s also important to me to continue to engage socially and support those people who don’t enjoy the same economic and social opportunities as I do.

For the future, I hope… that we succeed in joining together as a society to shape a good future in which we assume ecological, social, and economic responsibility for one another. It’s also important to me that we believe in the strength and commitment of those young people who seek to change our world through their convictions and their innovative ideas. I’m optimistic that we’ll be able to shape our future more sustainably—and it’s something to which I’d like to make my own contribution.

In our series “What does art have to do with the Earth’s climate?” the “Green mdw” initiative invites concerned individuals to speak out on their personal approaches to this issue.

Gerda Müller has led the mdw’s Department of Human Resources since 2000 and was appointed Vice Rector for Organisational Development, Gender, & Diversity in 2015. As part of her work, she bears responsibility for the information and action platform Green mdw as well as the for development and implementation of the mdw Diversity Strategy.

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