The Importance of Cross-Disciplinary Collaboration in Education and beyond for the Future of our Environment

Louise Fowler-Smith
2015 Conference

Over the last twenty years, a number of projects have developed from collaborations between artists, architects, landscape designers, curators, engineers, scientists and communities that involve the remediation of land that has become environmentally depleted. This has given rise to a confluence of art, technology and social engagement, and could be considered a new form of multidisciplinary practice.

My paper addresses the sub theme of “Creative collaboration across and between disciplines, institutions and frameworks”, by discussing a cross disciplinary course that I have written and teach that focuses on the Environment, and which has led to a cross disciplinary Linkage Grant to remediate former mine sites.

Art & the Environment- Studies in the Field  brings together students studying fine arts, design, media arts, architecture, engineering, science and environmental humanities. The course focuses on perceptions of land and encourages cross-disciplinary interaction and creative thinking. Students respond to a range of environmental problems by physically interacting with a large area of land I have called the ‘Creative Laboratory’ at UNSW Fowlers Gap and complete the course with an exhibition in Sydney.

The ARC Grant, titled ‘Transforming derelict mine sites via collaborative partnerships: Combining community and creative practice with science and technology’ is a collaboration between Art, Science. Mining engineering, Landscape Architecture and Architecture that will develop and test a novel approach to engage communities in transformation of derelict mine sites.

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About the author

Louise Fowler-Smith is an artist and Senior Lecturer at UNSW Art & Design. As Director of the Imaging the Land International Research Institute (ILIRI), she is interested in promoting new ways of perceiving the land in the 21st century. She believes that how we perceive and contemplate the land affects how we treat the land. Her teaching focuses on Art and the Environment, bringing together students from multi-disciplines including art, architecture, engineering, environmental management and science, while her most recent gallery based work focuses on the veneration of trees. Her recent ARC Grant application, Transforming derelict mine sites via collaborative partnerships: Combining community and creative practice with science and technology is under consideration.