Art Sustainability Activism 2023-2024

From the Ground Up

The UMass Fine Arts Center, the MFA for Poets and Writers, and the School of Earth & Sustainability, are working to create deliberate opportunities to connect artists, scientists, and changemakers. We learn from each other. Together, we reckon with climate change, elevating awareness, recognizing climate grief, and catalyzing meaningful change. Learn more.
Please visit our Calls To Action page for climate actions you can make today both in your individual life and in community.

Upcoming Events In Our Community


Panel poster Wednesday, April 24, 2024, 4 p.m. - 6 p.m. | Bromery Center for the Arts Lobby
Sunrise UMass: Sustaining Climate Action Speaker Panel

Sunrise UMass is hosting a speaker panel centered around sustaining climate action on campus and beyond. Hear from Professor Rachel Mordecai working on the UMass Move Our Money Campaign, Western Mass Climate Action Now's Susan Theberge and youth activist Ollie Perrault share their perspective on the matter.

This event will be an awesome opportunity for coalition building and meaningful dialogue. How can we strengthen the movement and keep the spirit alive? How can campus climate action be sustainable and be more in tune with local campaigns? All are welcome to join in on the discussion, please RSVP here!


Event posterMonday, April 29, 2024, 12 p.m. - 4 p.m. | Bromery Center for the Arts Plaza
The 2024 People's Science Fair - coincides with Founders' Day Cookout

The People’s Science Fair, organized by Western Mass Science for the People, will showcase diverse efforts by Western Massachusetts residents to harness STEM for social, economic, racial, environmental, climate, and cultural justice. Participants will include campus-based researchers with justice-oriented projects, grassroots organizers whose work involves STEM knowledge, and student activists committed to building a just future.

The People’s Science Fair welcomes college students, faculty, and staff; community organizers; K-12 classes; and everyone interested in justice-oriented STEM.


Spring 2024 - Fall 2024 | University Museum of Contemporary Art (UMCA)
Courtney M. Leonard - BREACH: LOGBOOK 24 | STACCATO

Photo of rib bone from Right Whale Staccato over black background with pale grey topography lines and text with title. The artist Courtney M. Leonard, a citizen of the Shinnecock Nation of Long Island, explores marine biology, Indigenous food sovereignty, migration, and human environmental impact through visual logbooks that investigate the multiple definitions of the term "breach.”

Her exhibition at the University Museum of Contemporary Art is the result of a multi-year artist residency hosted by the UMCA and the UMass College of Natural Sciences. Leonard researched within UMass’ expansive Natural History Collections and selected objects to inspire her newest body of work. BREACH: LOGBOOK 24 | STACCATO, includes paintings, sculptures, and video based on the life and kinship ties of Staccato, a North Atlantic Right Whale killed by a ship strike in 1999, whose remains are housed in the UMass collections.


Past Events This Year

Thursday, September 14, 2023, 4 p.m. | South College E470 | Free
The Essential Role of Social Mobilization in Confronting the Climate Crisis

Adam AronDespite all we know about the causes and harms of global heating, why has so little effective action been taken to cut greenhouse gas emissions, and what can we do to change that?

In his presentation, Dr. Adam Aron argues that, even with the advent of the Inflation Reduction Act, the pathway to stopping dangerous global heating will require a much larger social mobilization of advocacy and activism to impel decision-makers to abandon fossil fuels, and transition to renewable energy and electrification embedded in a political and social framework guided by justice principles.

Climate activist and professor of psychology at the University of California, San Diego, Adam Aron will discuss insights from his book The Climate Crisis . Aron’s research and teaching focus is on the social science of collective action on the climate crisis. His climate activism has been through the Green New Deal at UC San Diego where he has worked on several campaigns such as ElectrifyUC and has also produced the documentary Coming Clean: A Demand for a Fossil Free UC . Before switching to the climate crisis, Adam had a successful career in cognitive neuroscience.

Watch the recording here (73 min.)

Wednesday, October 11, 4 p.m. | Integrated Learning Center S240 | Free
Dr. Shaina Sadai, Union of Concerned Scientists:
Advancing Climate Justice by Using Climate Science and Climate Litigation to Pursue Corporate Accountability


Shaina SadaiThe fossil fuel industry has orchestrated well-documented decades long campaigns of deception and disinformation, which have delayed progress on the greenhouse gas emissions reductions necessary to limit the impacts of climate change. Researchers from the physical and social sciences have documented the spread of industry disinformation and quantified the link between corporate high emitters and climate impacts. This evidence is beginning to make its way into courtrooms around the world. Legal victories such as the youth-led lawsuit in Montana, and ongoing initiatives brought to international courts by island nation coalitions are providing new pathways toward holding corporate high emitters accountable for their actions.

Climate scientist, activist, and UMass alum, Dr. Shaina Sadai will discuss the state of climate science, research into corporate accountability, efforts to advance climate justice through courtrooms, and how you can help.

As a current Hitz Fellow for Litigation-Relevant Science at the Union of Concerned Scientists, Dr. Sadai’s current work addresses how we translate our knowledge into policies, programs, and societal change that meet the needs of this global moment, particularly from the perspective of multispecies climate justice. She is particularly interested in how international law can be applied to the changes sea level rise will bring. Dr. Sadai is an award-winning professor and has developed university level courses on climate change and climate justice and conducted research into the educational benefits of interdisciplinary climate education. She earned her PhD at UMass Amherst in the Department of Earth, Geographic, and Climate Sciences.

Watch the slideshow recording here (70 min.)

Thursday, October 12 2023, 4 p.m. | Randolph W. Bromery Center for the Arts lobby | Free
Art Sustainability Activism Interdisciplinary Discussion


Ashley Eliza Williams painting Join featured artist Sirintip, Dr. Shaina Sadai of the Union of Concerned Scientists and others in this meeting of minds working at the intersection of climate change, science, literature, performing arts, and social justice.
This discussion will be moderated by UMass professor Malcolm Sen.

Image by Ashley Eliza Williams.


Saturday, October 14, 2023, 3 p.m. | Goodell Lawn | Free | Rain or Shine

Sirintip, woman wearing yellow sunglasses wearing white shirt seated behind electronic musical equipment on stage. Photo taken at GroundUP Festival by Brian Friedman.This solar-powered, carbon-neutral concert is open to the public and presented as part of Family Weekend at UMass Amherst. Thai-Swedish multimodal artist, singer and producer Sirintip creates works that center climate action through empathy and meaningful connections. Ethereal but impassioned, Sirintip’s vocals move nimbly across sophisticated harmony, soar over dense walls of sound, and pulse through rhythmic modulations. Through her work, Sirintip seeks to create bridges of empathy. She aims to uncover and create connections through her music and her interdisciplinary works, arriving at moments of greater understanding. Over the next seven years she plans to shift her entire creative process into a sustainable practice. Featuring new music commissioned by Fine Arts Center in tribute to world-famous composer and climate activist Ryuichi Sakamoto.
This event is part of the Asian and Asian American Arts and Culture Program.


Monday, October 16, 12-4 p.m. | Randolph W. Bromery Center for the Arts lobby | Free, ticket required
Third Act Community Organizing Workshop with B Fulkerson


Third Act Vermont elder activists with signs Third Act is the first large-scale effort to organize older Americans for progressive action. In this workshop, Third Act leaders, including B Fulkerson, will discuss the unique role that older Americans can play using their life experiences, skills, and resources in the climate movement. The workshop will also explore how to build an irresistible, all-volunteer community of elders who back up youth who are on the frontlines of stabilizing democracy and the climate.


Monday, October 16, 6 p.m. | Frederick C. Tillis Performance Hall | Free, ticket required
Bill McKibben on Ecology, Culture, and Democracy

Bill McKibben Bill McKibben, founder of Third Act, co-founder of, and prolific author speaks about the responsibility of artists in a moment of emergency. How might artists go beyond their personal vision to help the movements that are our chief hope?

Q&A follows, moderated by B Fulkerson.

This event is presented in collaboration with Orion magazine.

Watch the recording here (87 min.)


More about Art Sustainability Activism

“We intend for this annual art, science, and humanities partnership to reflect society’s best efforts to address the climate crisis,” says Michael Sakamoto, performing arts programming curator at the UMass Fine Arts Center. “And we want to show creativity at the center of any solution.”

“Artists translate experience into the language of dance, the language of poetry, the language of image and music,” says MFA professor Noy Holland. “A poet is a maker, a visionary who transforms the real — even the hard reality of data — into a vision of what is possible. This transdisciplinary series creates a prism in which what is possible becomes imaginable, both the horrific and the hopeful. The prism is the prism of empathy, the necessary imaginative act.”

“With the unprecedented global challenges before us, it is clear that science alone will not provide the solutions,” says Curt Griffin, co-director for the School of Earth and Sustainability. “It will take fostering new transdisciplinary partnerships and assembling creative teams that fuse together arts, sciences, humanities, innovation, and culture. Our partnership with FAC and MFA is an example of how we advance the conversation towards a more just and sustainable future.”

CURRENT ACTIONS:  On Earth Day 2022, the University launched UMass Carbon Zero, an ambitious campaign to transition our campus to be powered by 100% renewable energy in the next decade. Learn more about UMCZ and our efforts to a low-carbon future here.