Are advances in science and technology the cure to the world’s many unsustainable habits? Some people are coming to the conclusion that the answer is no: know-how and hard facts aren’t enough to solve our problems.
“Narratives, stories, music and images served to warn our early ancestors against predators and natural disasters,” says Paul Shrivastava, director of the David O’Brien Centre for Sustainable Enterprise at Concordia University’s John Molson School of Business (JMSB). “Art helped them develop defense mechanisms. My colleagues and I believe that art should be used to deal with modern survival threats such as climate change and environmental crises.”
Shrivastava and colleagues from the University of Lorraine and the ICN Business School in Nancy, France, have co-authored an article for the International Journal of Technology Management that argues a focus on the arts is needed — in addition to science and technology — to instill the passion that’s needed to become more sustainable.
“No significant human endeavour has ever been accomplished without passion,” Shrivastava says. “Science and technology by themselves aren’t enough. We need to turn to the arts in order to infuse passion into the pursuit of sustainability and get real results that will heal the planet.”
In addition to building a passion for more sustainable habits, the arts benefit society in other ways that lead to better living as well, according to Shrivastava. Organizations with an eye on the arts can boost employee creativity, improve worker satisfaction and encourage innovations in sustainable products and services.
“We’ve spent decades relying on science and technology and the planet is still in shambles,” Shrivastava says. “Art allows fresh perspectives and new ways interpreting the world. In Montreal and beyond, art is what will make us give up our old habits in favor of planet-changing behavior.”