The social sciences traditionally have been associated with analysis, and the arts with creativity. What if we refused the authority of those old categories? What if we used the arts to challenge and expand social theory? And used social theory to recognize creativity as a means for social actions? For example:
Art heightens people's consciousness. It enables subtle shifts. It opens small margins of important change. It disrupts preconceived attitudes, letting people become more aware, more humane, and less extreme.
The arts can help us break through the invisibility, the felt unknown of exclusion, and the shaping power of racism in American life. They can dislodge arrogance, certainty, conformity, and normality. Arts enable us to be surprised and moved, opening up the center, collapsing it, imploding it, and ultimately allowing us to recognize the creativity of and from the margins—where it's not supposed to be.
Art doesn't legislate change. It imagines change.
Hampshire's Art and Social Action Program began as a collaborative effort between the school for interdisciplinary arts and the school of social science. A network of faculty across the five schools is now available to Division II and Division III students. If you are thinking about combining the arts with an agenda for social action, read on.
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