“No Thing Unto Itself”- Panelists Engage Sustainability and Social Entrepreneurship

When it comes to the big issues facing our society, approaches to resolving them merit examination and dialogue.  At the Center for the Humanities on October 20th, a discussion took place around politics, sustainability, and international charity.” No Thing Unto Itself”  was moderated by Katherine Behar, Professor of Art at Baruch College. She was also a panelist, and spoke on object oriented thinking. The other panelists were Noortje Marres, Prof. of Sociology at Goldsmiths, University of London, Shannon Mattern, Assistant Prof. of Media at The New School, and David Turnbull, Prof. of Architecture at Cooper Union.

Prof. Behar who also is co-curator of the “And Another Thing” exhibit spoke about object oriented thinking. In particular, she pointed out how solely thinking of objects ignores human reality as well as power relations. Prof. Marres took on the topic of environmental concerns and politics, building on the points raised earlier in the panel. This was done by a narrow focus on the question of sustainability and how people can use their agency to bring it about. This could play itself out in various ways; from being conscientious about water usage, to getting people to truly understand ways in which climate change affects people concretely.

The last two presenters Prof. Mattern and Prof. Turnbull spoke about focusing on the whole and social entrepreneurship, respectively. Notably, the presentation on social business was aided by the highlighting  different approaches to problems of  infrastructure. In Prof. Turnbull’s work, he spoke about the water access issues in Africa and how his company sought to lessen the intensity of this problem. Noting that “there is more rain in Nairobi then London” he further explained that the issue is to retain enough water to get through the dry periods. Through the company Pitch Africa the game of soccer is used as an agent to supply water filtration systems.

All throughout, this was an impressive panel. The next event of interest is the Afro-Latinos Now Conference coming up next month. To find out about this and more events, go to the Center for the Humanities website.

Marc W. Polite

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