The Art of Resilience: What’s at Stake for Integrating the Arts and Sciences to Achieve Sustainability and Resilience in the Anthropocene

Thursday, November 1, 2018, 12:00-1:30pm

This session will explore how both science and art both lack something (subjectivity and objectivity respectively) that the other needs. For “holistic” understanding, emotional engagement, and action that is essential for dealing with challenges of the Anthropocene, and how we need science and art unified and integrated.  Shrivastava will outline his research on the value of arts integration for sustainability and resilience. He will reprise his keynote to UNESCO’s World Humanities Conference while serving as executive director of Future Earth for this meeting and discuss his findings with respondents Sha Xin Wei and Cassandra Fraser.


Cassandra Fraser is a Professor of Chemistry at the University of Virginia, with joint appointments in Biomedical Engineering and the School of Architecture. She specializes in responsive materials for imaging, sensing and detection, specifically oxygen sensing biomaterials, mechanochromic luminescence materials and polymeric metal complexes. Fraser holds degrees from Kalamazoo College (BA 1984, Interdisciplinary: Political Theory, Theology, Philosophy, Women’s Studies), Harvard Divinity School (MTS 1988, Religion and Culture) and The University of Chicago (PhD 1993, Chemistry; advisor: Brice Bosnich). She was an NIH postdoctoral fellow with Robert Grubbs, 2005 Nobel Laureate in Chemistry, at the California Institute of Technology (1993-5). At UVA, she was awarded a Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers, an NSF CAREER Award, an Alfred P. Sloan Research Fellowship, and young professor awards from Dupont and 3M. She has been recognized with a Radcliffe Fellowship (2006-7), an ACS Green Chemistry Institute Sabbatical Fellowship (2006-7), a Japanese Society for the Promotion of Science (JSPS) Fellowship (2012), a Rockefeller Foundation Bellagio Residency (2013), and a Humboldt Connect Grant (2013). Fraser has led many innovative interdisciplinary programs at UVA including Color: Across the Spectrum, Science Careers and Society Forum, Biomaterials Workshop, Designing Matter Common Course, Metals in Medicine and the Environment, the Plastic Project, and Transduction. Her teaching and mentoring accolades include the Cavaliers Distinguished Teaching Professorship, Alumni Distinguished Professor Award, Jefferson Scholar Foundation Teaching Award, and induction into the University Academy of Teaching. She has engaged in numerous creative projects with artists, designers, poets, composers and dancers. She was selected as Scientist in Residence at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago for Spring 2019. She has served on editorial advisory boards for Macromolecules and ACS Applied Materials and Interfaces and Materials Chemistry Frontiers. In 2004 she was named a National Associate of the National Academies, a lifetime appointment for service to the nation. In 2015, she was elected a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS).


R. Benjamin Knapp is the Founding Director of the Institute for Creativity, Arts, and Technology (ICAT) and Professor of Computer Science at Virginia Tech. ICAT seeks to promote research and education at the boundaries between art, design, engineering, and science. Dr. Knapp also leads the Music, Sensors, and Emotion research group, with researchers in the UK and the US.

For more than 20 years, Dr. Knapp has been working to create meaningful links between human-computer interaction, universal design, and various forms of creativity. His research on human-computer interaction has focused on the development and design of user-interfaces and software that allow both composers and performers to augment the physical control of a musical instrument with direct sensory interaction. He holds twelve patents and is the co-inventor of the BioMuse system, which enables artists to use gesture, cognition, and emotional state to interact with audio and video media.

In previous positions, Dr. Knapp has served as a Fulbright Senior Specialist at University College, Dublin, and chief technology officer of the Technology Research for Independent Living Centre. As the director of technology at MOTO Development Group in San Francisco, Calif., he managed teams of engineers and designers developing human-computer interaction systems for companies such as Sony, Microsoft, and Logitech. He co-founded BioControl Systems, a company that develops mobile bioelectric measurement devices for artistic interaction. Dr. Knapp has also served as professor and chair of the Department of Computer, Information, and Systems Engineering at San Jose State University.

He earned a doctorate and master’s degrees in electrical engineering from Stanford University and a bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering from North Carolina State University. Dr. Knapp has been a PI in several pan-European projects including, CAPSIL (Common Awareness and Knowledge Platform for Studying and Enabling Independent Living) and SIEMPRE (Social Interaction and Entrainment Using Music Performance) and coordinated the EU project, BRAID (Bridging Research in Ageing and ICT Development).


Paul Shrivastava is Chief Sustainability Officer of Penn State University. He is also Director of Sustainability Institute, and Professor of Management at the Smeal College of Business.  Prior to this he served as the first Executive Director of Future Earth global research platform.

Paul is an academic entrepreneur.  He was part of the team that founded Hindustan Computer Ltd., one of India’s largest computer companies.  He founded the non-profit Industrial Crisis Institute, Inc. New York.  He founded the journal Organization and Environment, (published by Sage Publications).  He was founding President and CEO of eSocrates, Inc., a knowledge management software company, and the founding Chair of the Organizations and the Natural Environment Division of the Academy of Management.

Paul’s research uses science and arts to develop transdisciplinary solutions to sustainability challenges. His current focus is on implementation of Sustainable Development Goals. He is working with colleagues at Penn State, at Future Earth and at the United Nations to develop programs for implementing SDGs, and monitoring and measuring their progress. He believes that infusing sustainability across research, teaching, community and student engagement at Penn State University’s 23 campuses can help us implement sustainability across the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.

Paul received his PhD from the University of Pittsburgh. He has published 17 books and over 100 articles in refereed and scholarly journals.  He has served on the editorial boards of numerous leading management education journals. His work was recognized with a Fulbright Senior Scholar Award and IIM Calcutta Distinguished Alumni Award.


Sha Xin Wei, Ph.D., is Professor and Director of the School of Arts, Media + Engineering at ASU. He directs the Synthesis Center for responsive environments and improvisation with colleagues in AME and affiliate research centers. From 2005-2013 Dr. Sha was the Canada Research Chair in media arts and sciences, and Associate Professor of Fine Arts at Concordia University in Montréal, Canada. From 2001 to 2013 he directed the Topological Media Lab, an atelier-laboratory for the study of gesture and materiality from computational and phenomenological perspectives. He established the TML at Georgia Institute of Technology in 2001, and moved the lab to Montréal in 2005 with the support of the Canada Fund for Innovation and the CRC.

Dr. Sha’s research concerns ethico-aesthetic improvisation, and a topological approach to morphogenesis and process philosophy. His particular areas of study include the realtime, continuous mapping of features extracted from gestural instruments (such as woven or non-woven fabrics) into parameters modulating the continuous synthesis of video, sound, and physical or software control systems. This technical work supports the expressive improvisation of gesture in dense, palpable fields of sound, video and structured light, and animated materials.

Sha’s art research includes the TGarden responsive environments (Ars Electronica, Dutch Electronic Art Festival, MediaTerra Athens, SIGGRAPH), Hubbub speech-sensitive urban surfaces, Membrane calligraphic video, Softwear gestural sound instruments, the WYSIWYG gesture-sensitive sounding weaving, Ouija performance-installations, Cosmicomics Elektra, eSea Shanghai and the IL Y A video membrane, and Einsteins Dreams time-conditioning instruments. Sha collaborated with choreographer Michael Montanaro and the Blue Riders ensemble to create a stage work inspired by Shelley’s Frankenstein, with experimental musicians, dancers and responsive media.

Sha co-founded the Sponge art group in San Francisco to build public experiments in phenomenology of performance. With Sponge and other artists, Sha has directed event/installations in prominent experimental art venues including Ars Electronica Austria, DEAF / V2 The Netherlands, MediaTerra Greece, Banff Canada, Future Physical United Kingdom, Elektra Montréal, and eArts Shanghai. He has also exhibited media installations at Postmasters Gallery New York and Suntrust Gallery Atlanta. These works have been recognized by awards from major cultural foundations such as the Daniel Langlois Foundation for Art, Science and Technology; the LEF Foundation; the Canada Fund for Innovation; the Creative Work Fund in New York; Future Physical UK; and the Rockefeller Foundation.

Sha Xin Wei was trained in mathematics at Harvard and Stanford Universities, and worked more than 12 years in the fields of scientific computation, mathematical modeling and the visualization of scientific data and geometric structures In 1995, he extended his work to network media authoring systems and media theory coordinating a 3 year long workshop on interaction and computational media at Stanford. In 1997, he co-founded Pliant Research with colleagues from Xerox PARC and Apple Research Labs, dedicated to designing technologies that people and organizations can robustly reshape to meet evolving socio-economic needs. MIT Press has recently published Dr. Sha’s book, Poiesis, Enchantment, and Topological Matter.


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