Carlo Sessa reflexion on Jean Paul Vanderlinden presentation on Art, Science and Policy Design experiences

Thank you Jean-Paul,

for this and for the great presentation yesterday.

I was most interested to performativity, at least as I understood the importance of the art perspective not only to help iterate the words and the concepts they convey (I knew about these pieces of knowledge flowing from mind to mind as “memes”, in analogy to the genetic transmission through genes), but to literally embodying them and moving people to change.

This is something that so far I never seen integrated in participatory/transdisciplinary exercises which remain mostly anchored to an intellectual/science knowledge attitude towards the world, which can help people to understand, but it is not enough for people to move to a new way of doing (behavioural change).

What I told you in my comment yesterday is that I understood also another important issue, in relation to the current (bad) trend of post-factual reality, which worries in particular researchers as it seems we are loosing science integrity and the capability to create and manage “evidence based” policies.

The problem is increasingly this: evidence for whom? The answer is not simply to affirm the finality of the scientists doing research, but also to consider the intentions of the people (policy makers and citizens) that should use the scientific evidence, which are usually far from what the scientists have in their mind/understood of reality.

Art may help scientists to reconnect with themselves and with the others, embodying the concepts and the evidence of whatever need to be changed to improve (so, for example, more sustainability choices and moves) into a real desire and empathy for change.

 As I said, we need to emphasise this issue of integrating art and science further, for the purpose of reversing the current trends which see increasingly policy makers reconnecting with people minds thank to their communication (somehow artistic) capabilities to convey fake news and false evidence supporting their own interests and power (now Trump is the best example of this, but not the only one).

 May be we should put art/performativity at the centre of the triangle scientists-policy makers-citizens to reconnect all the three, to understand what the real evidence is (reminding that often science produce more doubts and questions than evidence and answers) and what change can people embody in their life.

The Future Search approach I presented in the first day engage people for 2 days in one room to deliver a vision and an “action plan” to which the participants are assumed to commit themselves for really (do you remind here the Andreu’s – other great – presentation: do you love me, really?), but this “really” could not happen without adding an art/performativity experience in the picture. The latter should help people to anticipate and feel the change in their body, and then this will help them to move and really change things in their life (e.g. the way you consider migrants after you see an artistic representation of one of them exhausted and crying on the beach).

 Finally, the lesson I learnt from your presentation is that transdisciplinary training is good for long-life learning – so it is good for as trainers to be also trainees – not only for young researchers. At different stages of our professional life we can become more sensible and eager to concentrate on aspects that we thought less relevant for us in the past, so transdisciplinarity is “really” an ever ending story …