Green Academy 1

Green Academy Seminar Series – Episode 1

Learning to Learn: How to Practise Art for a Convivial Future
Date: 06 June 2024, Thursday, at 18:00 CET.
Lecturer: Prof. Jan van Boeckel

To use our senses is to connect with the world. To go out into the living landscape and engage with it in making art is to intensify and transform our connection with the more-than-human world. This is why wildpainter and artist-educator Jan van Boeckel emphasises direct, unmediated bodily experience. We will talk about how such an artistic approach to nature makes room for three important processes. When we defamiliarise ourselves from old habits of perception, we can explore a landscape afresh using the imagination and evoke insights and connections instead of merely representing what we see. Using examples from his work, Jan will lay out a toolbox of more detailed supporting principles and virtues. They include alternating foreground and background, indirectness, inviting emergent properties, or the ability to inhabit uncertainty.

Here and elsewhere, Jan’s conception of arts-based environmental education is inspired by systems thinking. A core idea: For a system to be complete, part of it must remain incomplete and open to change. That is the space where the system can probe its way forward as it evolves and adapts to changing circumstances. It is through this incomplete part that the system “learns to learn”, as Gregory Bateson put it in his Steps to an Ecology of Mind. Artistic ways of practicing and knowing can help us inhabit such spaces of incompleteness – invaluable for a society that is probing ways to transition to a more sustainable state.

On a personal level, we will discuss how to face uncertainty, complexity, and not-knowing. Jan holds that engaging with art can stimulate us to access latent and new capacities. And this ability may turn out to be nothing less than a survival skill.

Jan van Boeckel is Professor of Art & Sustainability at the Research Centre Art & Society, Hanze University of Applied Sciences, Groningen. He started his career as a cultural anthropologist before shifting focus towards making and teaching art. Jan developed his practice and philosophy while teaching courses in wildpainting, other forms of art-making, and environmental education mainly in Nordic countries, as reflected in his book At the Heart of Art and Earth: An Exploration of Practices in Arts-Based Environmental Education. He received his Doctor of Arts in arts education from Aalto University, Helsinki, in 2013, and has continued to be involved in leading research projects in the field. Having previously worked in Iceland, Sweden, Estonia, and Finland, Jan is now based in the Netherlands. His primary research interest is in how art can help us face the great challenges of our time.

(After registration, we’ll send you the Zoom link some days before the event)

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This episode of the Green Academy will be hosted by ecologist, philosopher, and writer Philipp P. Thapa.
Organised in collaboration with the Sustainable Europe Research Institute Germany (


About Green Academy

Pro Progressione’s Green Pillar emphasizes the integration of artistic practices with the more-than-human environment. We lead and collaborate on various projects, focusing on sustainability and connecting artists with critical environmental issues.

Although these events are directly linked to projects such as The Big Green, we aim to provide an open platform for the cultural and creative sectors, inviting our partners to join the Academy. Following our 2024 pilot phase, we plan to organize five more lectures next year. These events are open to registered participants and offer not only learning experiences but also the opportunity to form a community of professionals dedicated to environmentally conscious art.

The Big Green project behind Green Academy is co-funded by the Creative Europe programme of the European Union.