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Social & Cultural

During the conference, a number of social and cultural events were organised in an effort to enhance the repercussion of the conference and connect the event with sustainability initiatives developed in the city. On one hand, the conference brought opportunities, mainly for the research community and students from Leeds, to be in contact with new ideas and insights for the transformation to a sustainable society. On the other hand, local artists/projects and perspectives permeated the event, giving inspiration and new ways to discuss sustainability for the >500 participants that visited Leeds.

The objective was to give opportunities to local artists and students to create new pieces focused on the conference theme: “Transformations for Sustainability”. The objective was to create momentum during the conference that will continue reverberating in Leeds through the dissemination of the art pieces created for the event and also through a short video campaign. These projects were funded by The Green Exchange, an initiative managed by Leeds University Union.

The idea for the project emerged from reflections on the last Conference of the International Society for Ecological Economics.  We concluded that the scientific community needs to find better ways to interact and work together with social movements for the transformation to a sustainable society. In this context, the organising committee for the conference of the European Society for Ecological Economics (ESEE2015) decided to create space for the interaction between participants and local sustainability initiatives, and enhance as much as possible the sustainability of the event. One of the goals of the committee was to bring about new ways to discuss and reflect upon sustainability, working with local artists and students.

Sustainable soundscape

Sound installation in the Parkinson Building that used nature sounds to influence people’s behaviour towards sustainability. Created by local sound artist Phill Harding and run throughout the day during conference registration.

The piece:

meanwhile, elsewhere...

meanwhile, elsewhere... is one of a series of works overlaying the soundscape of one place onto another. Working with particular formal aspects of the interior architecture of the Parkinson Atrium, the piece aims to playfully reveal these hidden features and to transform our relationship to this impressive space.

The artist:

Phill Harding is a West Yorkshire-based artist who works with sound in a primarily visual-arts context. His work is often site specific and always site- and context-responsive. Sometimes this takes the form of large-scale installations in which the pre-existent physical architecture is a main aspect of the work. Phill is very interested in the flux of time and the specifics of our present moment in it, and in our psychological responses to the places / spaces we inhabit.

Phil Harding (right) and Simon Bradley (left) during Sustainable Soundscape performance.

Dance piece

Dance performance during the conference dinner at the Town Hall choreographed by Donald Edwards. As all activities, the dance piece reflected and discussed ways for the transition to sustainable societies. To enhance the sustainability appealing of the piece, the costumes of the dancers will be designed by Moira Benoit and made of recycled materials.

The piece:

Titled creation. A piece that conveys the mystical and spiritual connection and sense of place. When encountering echoes with Mother Nature. When complications are really simple but profound and the beauty of wisdom echoes like the true alchemists. I’ve approached this choreography as abstract to capture the essences, mood, tone and feeling ethereal in presence, using the elements of earth, fire, water and air and most importantly when the tangible world, meets, the intangible science and spirit to bridge the work towards transformation. I would like to thank my dancers and my designer for their hard work and commitment, thank you to ecoecoecho. To begin a script that we can write to educate us all.

The artist:

Founder member of phoenix dance theatre, received a b.a honour's from the Northern School of Contemporary Dance. Nominated for the Oliver awards and recipient of the black achievers award with the RIC dance company. My work in dance has been education, schools, colleges, universities, community, a mentor and choreographer, such as, the special Olympics, channel 4 ballet hoo and meeting the Olympic torch. My world has been a fantastic journey. My mission is to use dance to bridge the space between people; to heal culture difference's; to explore the balances between body, mind, and emotions and spirit; to link the individual with the collective; and to find the extraordinary in the every day.

The costumes:

The costumes were designed on visual references for Earth, Air, Water and Fire creating textures with basic fabrics such as muslin and recycled found scraps of material. As dance costumes the movement of the dancers was also taken into consideration reinforcing the choreographic interpretation.

The designer:

I have been designing for theatre and in particular dance since graduating from The Glasgow School of Art. For me sets and even costume are sculpture, but kinetic sculpture. I enjoy seeing my work in movement as a culmination of collaborating with other art forms be it dance or drama.

Art installation

An installation piece created by artist-in-residence at the University of Leeds, Sue Lawty, featured in the Parkinson Court throughout the full conference. The piece stimulated participants to meet and talk with other participants about the conference’s key themes:

The piece:



change, alteration, mutation, conversion, metamorphosis, transfiguration, transmutation, sea change, revolution, overhaul, remodelling, reshaping, redoing, reconstruction, rebuilding, reorganisation, rearrangement, reworking, renewal, remaking…

All conference participants were invited to contribute to the specially commissioned pop-up artwork: TRANSFORMATIONS. This collaborative piece has a simple premise: to colour in/ write the word TRANSFORMATIONS using materials which were collected from the natural environment.

Working individually or in partnership, respond to the shapes and colours and to the notion of transformation by selecting and pinning the natural found marks onto the board. Notice how the drawing evolves and changes throughout the conference…

The artist:

Devised by Sue Lawty, Leverhulme Artist in Residence, School of Earth & Environment, University of Leeds. Lawty's work provides a direct engagement with nature, drawing the viewer in to notice the most subtle of nuances and languages inherent in our world.

Cycle powered film festival

An evening of sustainably powered films about sustainability, utilising the Cyclops Bike-Powered Generator and featuring films related to the subject of the conference. There was a short workshop before the films, explaining the process to build the system, a short discussion about sustainable energy, the objectives and outcomes of the project, and how to engage with the cause.