Art Sustainability Activism


Through Art Sustainability Activism, the 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.

“We intend for this annual art, science, and humanities partnership to reflect society’s best efforts to address the climate crisis,” says Michael Sakamoto, the Fine Arts Center's performing arts curator. “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,” explains Curt Griffin, co-director for the School of Earth & 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.”

Past ASA series guests include Philip Glass, Amitav Ghosh, and  Roy Scranton along with Professor Carolina Aragón, Dr. Alison Bates, Kimberly Blaeser, Dr. Julie Brigham-Grette, Abigail Chabitnoy, Dr. Andy J. Danylchuk, Dr. Rob DeConto, Lauren de la Parra (UMass MS Sustainability Science ‘18) Emmalie Dropkin (UMass MFA ‘19) Larissa FastHorse, Michael John Garcés,  Dr. Mark Hamin, Miwa Matreyek, Dr. Toni Lyn Morelli, Emily Raboteau and the Indigenous artists of Small Island Big Song.

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.

UMass Amherst is fast becoming one of the nation’s premiere institutions for sustainability. It is currently ranked in the top 10 public research universities for sustainability in the country by the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education. The 2021 Sierra Cool Schools sustainability ranking put UMass Amherst in the top 20 of 328 schools ranked in North America.