Sustainability, Transdisciplinarity, and the Arts

Posted on August 21, 2012

“Its very meaninglessness is its greatest strength”This is how the concept of sustainability was presented by Dr Joe Zammit-Lucia at a guest lecture titled “Trans-disciplinarity, Sustainability and the Arts” hosted at Florida International University by its College of Arts and Sciences and the School of Environment, Arts and Society (press release).

In a wide ranging talk focused on how we make meaning of the world around us, Dr Zammit-Lucia argued that individual disciplines have converted “knowledge” into the process of learning more and more about less and less making each discipline increasingly less relevant to the real world. Arguing for making a leap from “Trans-disciplinarity” to “A-disciplinarity” he presented ‘sustainability’ as a useful concept around which discussion about the future of our societies can be structured.

“I would ask you to think of sustainability not as a word to which we have to give firm meaning but rather as a forum for discussion. We must avoid individual disciplines attempting to seize ‘sustainability’ as their own and plant their colonial flag on top of it.” 

Presenting the environmental debate as stale and locked into increasingly shrill and ineffectual ideological battles, he argued that, because of its relative meaninglessness, sustainability still had the power to bring people together in meaningful discussion making its melleability its biggest strength.

Focused on preparing students to be engaged citizens in a global society, The College of Arts and Sciences at Florida International University works across disciplines to create a more complete knowledge of the world.  Dr Zammit-Lucia is part of the Dean’s Advisory Board.