What's happening in the College of Arts

The Centre for Sustainable Solutions is bringing together what's happening across campus around environmental sustainability, climate change, and the UN Strategic Development Goals.

Ultimately the full results of this audit will be made available to search and browse, so you can find potential collaborators, supervisors, courses, or activities to join in with.

For now, here's a taster of some of the exciting research happening in the College of Arts. If you would like to let us know about your own work, please drop an email to sustainable-solutions@glasgow.ac.uk.

Prof Minty Donald

Prof Minty Donald's performance project Guddling About - Performing Human-Water Interrelations was chosen as our first Monthly Spotlight in August 2020. In collaboration with artist Nick Millar, this project uses participatory ‘micro-performances’ to explore interrelations between humans and water. The Guddling About micro-performances encourage people to interact with water in personal, sensory and poetic ways, and to increase their understanding of how water behaves, how it is managed, how it feels, and how it makes them feel. Enhanced awareness of water at a local level can help address water-related environmental issues such as flooding, scarcity, and pollution.

The practice-research methods developed in Guddling About were also applied in the  'Green-Blue-Grey Campus/Rain Garden Project', which was funded by the University of Glasgow’s Chancellor’s Fund.  This project brought together arts and science researchers and University Estates to investigate the potential for green-blue infrastructure on Campus. It focussed on a design feature of the new campus development: a rain garden which functions as a sustainable drainage system.

You can find out more about Minty's research on her staff page or on the School of Culture and Creative Arts Performance Ecology Heritage website.

Prof Minty Donald engaged in Guddling About project


Photo from the Performance Ecology Heritage website, used with permission.

Dr Matt Brennan - Music and Sustainability

Dr Matt Brennan is a Reader in Popular Music in the School of Culture and Creative Arts. His AHRC-funded Music and Sustainability project explores new ways of addressing environmental challenges through the arts. It also aims to build new links between music scholars working in this area and wider networks across the arts and humanities. It investigates the relationship between music and sustainability in all its guises (e.g. economic, social, environmental), as well as how related concepts (challenges facing musical “ecosystems" or scenes, etc.) are used in music research. It focuses on: (1) musical instruments and making-making technologies; (2) recording formats and music-listening technologies; (3) the live music industry; and (4) green cultural policy.

Matt Brennan Portrait

Photo of Matt Brennan, ©Matt Brennan, used with permission.

Dr Rhys Williams - Imagining our Solar-Powered Future

Dr Rhys Williams is Lecturer in Energy & Environmental Humanities, with a keen interest in fantasy literature, based in the School of Critical Studies. As he says in the paper linked below, "[i]n the transition from fossil fuels to renewable energy, solar power is likely to provide the lion’s share." Rhys' interest in solarpunk, an "emerging sub-genre of fantasy and science fiction broadly characterised by imagining sustainable futures after energy transition", has allowed him to explore the ways in which we humans are finding our way into an unknown future, including the good, the bad, the ugly, and across the full political spectrum and nuances of utopia/dystopia. As he concludes, "[i]f energy transition is to be a battle of hearts and minds as much as PV panels and lithium batteries, a serious engagement with energy imaginaries is the means to understanding and marshalling them." -- Williams, R. (2019) 'This Shining Confluence of Magic and Technology': solarpunk, energy imaginaries, and the infrastructures of solarity. Open Library of Humanities, 5(1), 60. Special Collection: Powering the Future: Energy Resources in Science Fiction and Fantasy. (doi: 10.16995/olh.329).

Rhys also leads the Energy and Ecology Group (ECG), comprised of staff and students from across the University. ECG hosts a fortnightly reading and discussion group, with readings suggested and introduced by members, covering energy & ecology from any and all perspectives, aiming at the vital work of building a conversation across disciplines.

An eco-friendly house reflecting sky and trees

Arts Lab: Discourses of Sustainability

Prof Bernie O'Rourke and Dr Tom Bartlett share an interest in sociolinguistics, and co-lead the College of Arts research theme Discourses of Sustainability. As they note on the theme page, changes to the environment through, for example, resource extraction, habitat destruction, flooding and temperature fluctuations can impact on the social, cultural and sociolinguistic life of a community. "Social and material changes, including environmental issues, are also mediated and affected through a range of language practices and the circulation, interconnections and potential disconnects between these."

MacDonalds sign in English and Gaelic in Fort William

Bernie is based in the School of Modern Languages and Cultures. Her research sits within the broad area of sociolinguistics and the sociology of language, and focuses on the political and social meanings of language and their influence on society.

Tom is based in the School of Critical Studies and specialises in Systemic Functional Linguistics (SFL) and Critical Discourse Analysis (CDA), with a particular focus on functional descriptions of Scottish Gaelic at one end of the scale and the Discourses of Sustainability and Community Management at the other. Recent publications of interest include:

Bartlett, T. (2019) Scaling the incommensurate: discourses of sustainability in the Western Isles of Scotland. In: Montessori, N. M., Farrelly, M. and Mulderrig, J. (eds.) Critical Policy Discourse Analysis. Series: Advances in Critical Policy Studies. Edward Elgar Publishing, pp. 242-263. ISBN 9781788974950

Singh, J. N. and Bartlett, T. (2017) Negotiating sustainability across scales. AILA Review, 30(1), pp. 50-71. (doi: 10.1075/aila.00003.sin)


Photograph courtesy of Xabier Cid, under Creative Commons CC BY-SA.