Opinion

How to build Arizona communities through the arts and humanities

Posted 10/20/21

Communities across Arizona are experiencing many challenges — from navigating a global pandemic to feeling the effects of climate change as our cities become hotter and our water resources …

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Opinion

How to build Arizona communities through the arts and humanities

Posted

Communities across Arizona are experiencing many challenges — from navigating a global pandemic to feeling the effects of climate change as our cities become hotter and our water resources wane.

Science and data are important to measuring and defining the issues we face. On the other hand, the arts and humanities show us what we cannot always see in the statistics — why we should care?

October is National Arts & Humanities month and Arizona Humanities invites Arizonans to celebrate the arts and humanities and reflect on how the arts and humanities can help us meet the challenges of today and bring our community together.

The arts and humanities help us understand our shared human experience. By exploring our diverse cultures, traditions, and histories, we can begin to understand each other; we can begin to make connections; and we can begin to build community. The arts and humanities remind us that we are all part of humanity, and that is why we should care.

This fall, Arizona Humanities launched a new public program series: Climate Conversations. This series examines a familiar topic, climate change, through a different lens: through history, literature, art, poetry, philosophy and more. Each event delves into the intersection between our environment and the humanities, the point at which nature and culture meet. The stories and narratives told through the series bring larger climate issues to life.

How do climate changes affect our daily lives? How do my actions or inactions impact the environment around me?

Sir Jonathan Bate, professor of environmental humanities at Arizona State University, opened the Climate Conversations series. Bate is the leading authority on the rich and dynamic relationship between the environment and the humanities, including literature, history and the arts. He explained why the humanities are crucial to understanding and addressing climate issues that we face today.

Climate Conversations is the first livestreamed program series for Arizona Humanities. Over 150 people from across the state watched the first event and were able to engage with Sir Bate in real time.

“Every day I read the paper and see stories about water shortages and wildfires, about shrinking lakes and air pollution. Bate helped me think about things with a longer perspective. Many of these issues aren’t new, but we can think about addressing these issues in new ways to protect the planet now and for the future,” said Brenda Thomson

“It was enlightening having the opportunity to hear Sir Bate speak of the effects of environmental issues on diverse populations and how humanities disciplines are used by cultures to express impact. I appreciated his expertise, knowledge and ability to chronicle the stories that took these issues from individual context to a sense of the global society we are all very much a part of,” said Missy Shackelford.

People who join future conversations can still listen to earlier programs and learn more about upcoming events on the Climate Conversations web page at azhumanities.org.

The humanities is the gateway to becoming invested in not only the threat of climate change but also the social and economic issues communities face today. We encourage you to join the conversation as we consider this important issue which affects all of us.

Arizona Humanities is a statewide 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization and the Arizona affiliate of the National Endowment for the Humanities. Visit azhumanities.org.

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