Sustainable Action: A collective engagement in Life 

The SDG-Action University at Teaterøen grows from the idea that sustainability entails rethinking central areas of our society such as performativity, rationality, organisation, knowledge, learning, nature and leadership. Although sustainability is a fuzzy concept with many different attempts to translate it, a growing number of studies tap into the affective turn, aiming at understanding sustainability as a transformative potential for our organisations and society. The starting point of these studies is that we cannot solve our problems with the same forms of knowledge that have created the problems in the first place. Therefore, these studies aim to go beyond this problem maze (Li & Lin, 2011), which our industrial society has created, by advocating for sustainability as a new kind of aesthetic, sensitive and sensuous rationality. This rationality is about creating knowledge on an experiential and felt level. Because, when we are affecting our bodies and are affecting other bodies too, we can also put our thoughts into movements and action. Hence, activating these affective co-motions also makes it possible to see and to feel how every human and non-human Sustainable Action: A collective engagement in qualitatively better Life The Action University: Teaterøen as a campus for experiential and felt thoughts in the act (dwelling, fabulating, doing, creating, making…) Research as Creation, Collaboration and Participation: We are all artists, activists and researchers! is related in ongoing, ‘flat’ and horizontal networks. One movement affects another movement and we can no longer (if ever) manage and control these movements from a meta-governance perspective. What we can do is to ask: How can we be aware of more Life and how can we activate and multiply it together? The Action University is informed by these kinds of studies and shares the ambition about boosting a sensitive and sensuous rationality, because it wants to explore how to transgress our habitual way of thinking and acting in order to create new pathways. The idea is not first to change the individual – and thereby society. The ambition is rather to be aware of and to activate all the subtle, vague - and often understood as useless microworlds - between us. This kind of knowledge is an important source for change and for Life. Albeit, also often overseen in our institutionalised and performance-oriented systems.

Copenhagen Action University – Teaterøen as a campus for experiential and felt thoughts in the act

Mostly, when people talk about knowledge, they are concerned with what philosophers call “propositional knowledge.” Propositional knowledge is knowledge of facts, and it can be clearly articulated in language. The primary aim of many universities is to build up that kind of knowledge through research projects, digital data, libraries, power points, buildings etc. The knowledge that we acquired from listening to theatre plays, music and from participating in artistic collaborative processes is not propositional knowledge. These kinds of processes do not present us with any new facts, and the knowledge that it gives cannot be expressed in sentences. These kind of experiential and felt knowledge gives a new experience of the world around us. It gives us the ability to integrate with the urban nature, the city and the social relations and to grow new pathways in world in all it’s complexity. The experiential and felt knowledge cannot be ‘fixed’ or documented as articulated categorizations. This also changes the idea of a campus. Instead of using a university campus as a place to transfer knowledge from experts to students, the campus becomes a ‘experiential and real felt thinking-space’ engaged in: How to create thousands of experiential and felt movements in-between humans and nonhumans in ways to re-vitalize our existing systems and to navigate in new ways. The Action University is hosted at the TEATERØEN, because this Other Place has the potential to enhance and to grow the sensitive and sensuously rationality as an ecology of experiential and felt thoughts in the act. Teaterøen is as an ‘island’ – with multiple potential connections to the world - an open invitation to constantly to create new lines of Life in/and through the city of Copenhagen. Constantly inviting institutions, private companies and NGOs to experience knowledge on a felt level and thereby to do research in sustainable urban Life. This is not about imagining the futures (as in the 1980’ties.) The risk of this is, that it will create broken expectations, when the reality is not becoming like the imagination. Rather, it is about being aware that every time we lift our foot, we have the potential to put it down in a potential better way. To actually be aware of this potential for change in every movement, we need to actively participate in the creation of experiential and felt knowledge. Teaterøen offers this space. The Action University at Teaterøen is situated between the City center and the peripheral of the city, the land and the water and between the rational and the aesthetic, performance management and performance studies. It is a place which have not undergone any modern re-design and construction since the 1950’ties. It has been a place for the military and for the navy. The last ten years it has hosted all kinds of theatres, plays and festivals. From being a place about protecting Life it has slowly become a place for creating Life. Thereby Teaterøen can tell stories about another kinds of practices, times and spaces. This gives us – as humans - the opportunity to become someone else at the Teaterøen, than we might thought we could become. When we are going to school, college, the townhall, the library or the university the roles and manuscripts are pre-given. At Teaterøen we need to re-invent ourselves and our relations to others, to the place and to the City of Copenhagen. Every step and movement we make at this ‘Other Place’ silently affects our bodies to rethink on an experiential and felt level: Who am I and my relation to the others and to this public space? How – and to what extent – can I change these intra-actions in qualitatively better ways?

Read more about the strategies and methods of The Action University here.
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