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The Arts

The POWER of the arts

The Rising Tide, by Jason deCaires Taylor, London

Creative Responses to Climate Change

"You don't build movements through bar graphics. You build them, in part, with art." —Bill McKibben

June 18-July 1

Our impending climate crisis has inspired diverse artistic responses. Some seek to motivate action. Others are processing the emotional weight of the challenges that face us. Still others wish to call attention to the impact on vulnerable populations and communities of color, or to use their work to educate, build community, and create strategies for action and resilience. 

The course will begin with a grounding in the science of climate change. Students will research and experience a variety of existing climate-focused artworks as they explore and develop their own. Curbing global emissions requires a collaborative and multifaceted effort. Similarly, students will work across artistic disciplines, delving into disciplines both familiar and new to forge compelling hybrids inspired by profound global shifts.

The course will encourage students to engage in a multifaceted dialogue with the material, themselves, each other, and the audience for the work they produce. It welcomes students with experience in any artistic or performance disciplines, including painting, dance, music, photography, design, theater and writing, among others. While contributing and further developing their existing expertise, they should also be prepared to explore new methods and work closely with others, in order to move beyond the known, and engage new combinations, relationships and modes of expression.


Lead Instructor: Peter Nicholson

Peter—who graduated from Oberlin in 1991—is passionate about educating the next generation of sustainability-oriented leaders, and has consistently incorporated teaching in his professional activities for almost 15 years. This is his second summer as Lead Instructor for the Arts course; he loves the opportunity it provides to exercise the "right side" of his brain, and draw upon his background as a musician and creative writer.  

Peter leads a multifaceted career focused on innovating greater social, environmental and economic sustainability. In 2002, he established the nonprofit Foresight Design Initiative, for which he serves as the Executive Director. Prior to embarking upon his career in sustainability, he worked in Arts Administration, as the Communications Director for Orchestra of St. Lukes, and Co-Founder/Managing Director of Eos Orchestra, amongst other positions. Peter completed graduate coursework at the Institute of Design at the Illinois Institute of Technology. At Oberlin, he double majored in Creative Writing and Cello Performance. His current artistic pursuits include a hybrid writing/photography project focused on envisioning resilience in the City of Detroit, and in 2012, he completed his six year term as the founding Board chair for the contemporary music ensemble Eighth Blackbird. 


Potential Field Trips & Guest Speakers

Unique amongst the Foresight Prep courses, students in the Power of the Arts explore sites on campus that willinform the work that they are creating. These include the Allen Memorial Art Museum, one of the nation's top college or University collections, and the Oberlin College Art Library

One field trip day will be spent in Cleveland with Power of Cities students, exploring urban climate change and adaptation strategies that may further inspire students' work.