Missing the Peacock—Arts, Sciences, Creativity, and Chronic Environmental Crisis

Taru Peltola, Outi Ratamäki, Maria Åkerman, Isabelle Arpin, Estelle Balian, Nils Bunnefeld, Sera Irvine, Nina V. Nygren, Teemu Palosaari, Lasse Peltonen, Tanya Stadelmann, Inge Thomson, Yorck Von Korff, Juliette C. Young, Steve Redpath


Debate on conflicts and disputes over environmental issues has intensified due to climate change and other global pressing problems becoming ever more pronounced. Simultaneously, there is little evidence of natural or social sciences helping transform even local conflicts, some of them lasting decades, gradually becoming chronic and having severe and pervasive effects on people’s lives. On the contrary, natural sciences often become part of the conflicts while social sciences remain distant observers. Conflict management requires creativity: imagining new solutions, relating to, thinking and acting in new ways. Hence, stimulation of creative thinking might offer avenues for coping with conflicting situations. We tested new forms of interaction and opportunities of creative work in managing prolonged conflicts in a series of meetings between natural scientists, social scientists, artists and conflict mediation professionals. This article discusses the experiences emerging from this experimental process. Experimenting with creative working methods provided us with new tools to facilitate interaction in the conflicts we intervene in or study. However, we don't see arts-science collaborations as a panacea to resolving conflict situations. More than interactive skills and tools that would lead to a clear-cut end of conflicts, we emphasize the ability to reflect on our own practice and role in environmental conflicts. Creative experiments can be valuable in pointing out open questions, such as what is the role that scientists, artists and mediators take and should take in controversial situations.


art, creative process, environmental conflict, emotion, experimentation, science, trust

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