Civilisation and imagined futures

16 Jun, 2020
Architecture of density Civilisation
Artwork: Michael Wolf, Architecture of Density #91, 2006 © Michael Wolf, courtesy of M97 Shanghai

Professor Charles Walker, head of Huri Te Ao The School of Future Environments, has reflected on the challenge of educating for imagined futures in light of the COVID-19 pandemic and New Zealand’s own experience of lock down.

“Huri Te Ao, AUT’s new School of Future Environments, exemplifies the university’s strategic commitment to developing these novel constellations of knowledge and modes of learning. ‘Huri te Ao’ means ‘change the world’ – a more proactive take on AUT’s earlier ‘University for the Changing World’ tagline. The public launch of Huri te Ao was scheduled for April, at Auckland Art Gallery, to coincide with the opening of Civilisation, Photography, Now. Ironically, the cancellation due to COVID-19 might also be taken as sign of the necessity and urgency for such a programme.”

Auckland Art Gallery has reopened with Civilisation, Photography, Now one of several exhibitions alongside the regular collection.

Professor Walker says as the environmental challenges of the 21st century grow more complex and more urgent, it becomes incumbent on universities to foster imagination, strategic thinking, research agendas and infrastructures at a scale that supports graduates to be creative and effective agents of environmental change.

“What the School of Future Environments shares with Civilisation, Photography, Now is a focus on the bigger pictures of how we live. Each sets out to frame new ways of looking at collective endeavours and evolving themes which cut across the jealously guarded borders of academic specialisation or individual authorship. If Civilisation, Photography, Now reflects how we live collectively now, then Huri te Ao was set up to explore how we might live together, differently, in the future.

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