Field work in the classroom at Monash University

Dance of Life, Monash University.

By Professor Justin O’Connor

The Master of Cultural and Creative Industries has just completed its innovative new unit Cultural Economy and Sustainable Development.

It is focused on how developing countries can use culture in a sustainable way and contribute to a wider sustainable approach.

Rather than take 50  students to different, often remote, destinations across the globe we try to bring them to Monash University.

We heard from Avril Joffe, a UNESCO international expert based at Wits University, Johannesburg, and fresh from advising the South African government on their new cultural policy.

She told us of the amazing cultural development in urban and rural Africa, as well as the challenges being faced there.

We heard from Helene George, who runs local consultancy Creative Economy, about her work with indigenous communities in the Red Centre and the Kimberly.

Finally, we had two cultural and environmental activists from Amazonian Brazil, Dan Baron Cohen and Mano Souza. They worked with very poor communities using performance, sculpture, music and art to develop a sense of identity and purpose and raise awareness of the ecological disaster resulting from the rapid industrialisation of the region.

They brought their workshop techniques to the students, from at least 10 different countries, in order to show how their non-verbal intercultural pedagogy is used in communities.

Dan and Mano run a project called Rivers of Creativity and students were asked to write reflective pieces on their relationship to water.

This was part of the workshop and in order to send messages of solidarity to the community in the Amazon, on their International day of Solidarity June 5th.

They also did a public lecture at The Malthouse, in association with the Centre for Theatre and Performance

The event made the local newspaper, for those who can read Portuguese.