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Title: Developing processes for an imaginative and connective engagement with natural landscapes
Author: Ewald, Axel
ISNI:       0000 0004 7971 7409
Awarding Body: Oxford Brookes University
Current Institution: Oxford Brookes University
Date of Award: 2018
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This practice-based research project explores how a deepened imaginative and empathic involvement with natural landscapes can engender processes of individual and social transformation concerning our relationship to nature. The research focuses on the design of three prototype processes that are tested in 10 one-day workshops with a total of 118 participants. The methodology draws on the researcher's experience as an environmental artist and facilitator of experience-based nature observation workshops based on Goethean phenomenology. Goethean methodology is extended to include contemporary social sculpture thinking and connective practice strategies and methodology, as developed by Prof. Shelley Sacks. The shift of emphasis from a study of nature to an inquiry into our interrelationship with nature has prompted the development of new methodologies and strategies, which include: full physical immersion in the fabric of landscape, including the expanded use of our senses and techniques of embodiment; encouraging the adoption of new vantage-points and the abandoning of habitual comfort zones; nurturing the 'imaginative mode' of engagement; practice of empathic identification with the other-than-human world; strategies of polarity, surprise and dissonance. Reflection of participants' responses and feedbacks focuses on examining the relevance of the processes developed for the following objectives: 1. connecting the personal experience of the individual with the phenomena of the living natural world, 2. nurturing heightened responsiveness and promoting an enhanced sense of living, 3. engendering a more empathic relationship to nature, 4. enabling new insights into the interrelationship between human beings and nature, 5. transforming the views, values, attitudes and mind-sets that shape our relationship to nature and 6. promoting communal learning and connective interpersonal processes. By integrating Goethean phenomenology with the sensitivity nurtured by environmental sculpture practice and with transformative connective practice informed by social sculpture thinking, this study outlines a new arena of interdisciplinary research and practice, which is characterized by its emphasis on experiential, participatory social processes. It contributes new transformative strategies and imaginative practices to the growing body of knowledge and experience shared by both Goethean practitioners and social and environmental activists.
Supervisor: Sacks, Shelley ; Zumdick, Wolfgang Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral