You Can’t Spell “Earth” Without “Art”: Art & Environmental Leadership

Course Description

Throughout history, art has reflected our relationship with nature—from cave etchings, landscape paintings, wildlife photography, and land art, to today’s climate change artwork. Although often thought of as separate or disconnected disciplines, art and science share common values and methodologies. Driven by curiosity, cross-disciplinary efforts between the arts and sciences can produce innovative and unexpected solutions to pressing ecological challenges, and engage audiences with scientific information in more accessible and compelling ways.

In this course, you will focus on the intersection of art and science in environmental leadership, and how these disciplines can collaborate to creatively respond to pressing environmental challenges. Additionally, you will establish foundations in environmental leadership and understand your role in developing solutions in the form of environmental action.

Alongside foundations in environmental leadership, this course provides a survey of the history of environmental art, and how art and science are intersecting today. You will explore how art can affect attitudes about environmental topics and how art–science partnerships can address ecological challenges directly, in perhaps more novel ways than either discipline could do alone. We will analyze examples of environmental art projects around a range of environmental subject matter (water quality, flooding, urban heat, soil health, and air quality), and art forms (painting, sculpture, performance, writing, and music).

We will focus our learning around:

  • Socially responsible leadership
  • Science communication best practices
  • Art & science collaboration: history and contemporary practice
  • The role of art in social change
  • Resources and skills for environmental advocacy
  • Impact of humans on ecosystems in the context of global climate change
  • Environmental justice literacy and context
During this course, you will identify a pressing issue that you are passionate about and, with support from faculty and peers, will create an Action Plan to apply your new leadership knowledge to this issue in your home community. You will be encouraged to think creatively about integrating art and science together in their Action Plans.

To facilitate community development and peer learning exchange, this online course has a synchronous component, meaning you will be expected to join for a limited number of real time lessons and class discussions (to be scheduled and published in advance). There are alternative assignments available for students who are unable to attend because of time differences or technical difficulties. With experience in both science and art, instructor Christina Catanese brings great expertise in this intersection. She seeks to embody earth processes through her choreography, and has curated dozens of contemporary environmental art exhibitions. She has an M.S. in Applied Geosciences and a B.A. in Environmental Studies and Political Science (University of Pennsylvania).


None required. This course is a good fit for students with a passion for environmental topics and are interested in crossing traditional disciplinary boundaries to achieve social and environmental change. Basic fluency with environmental topics and interest in any form of art is helpful. An interdisciplinary, integrative, big picture, creative mindset. Not necessary to consider yourself to be “an artist.”


One Section Available to Choose From:

Online sections of Pre-College courses are offered in one of the following modalities: Asynchronous, Mostly asynchronous, or Blended. Please review full information regarding the experience here.

Dates: June 20, 2022 - July 01, 2022
Duration: 2 Weeks
Meeting Times: Online - Mostly Asynchronous
Status: Closed
Format: Online
Instructor(s): Mysia Anderson
Christina Catanese
Course Number: 10131