Culture(s) in Sustainable Futures: theories, policies, practices

International Transdisciplinary Conference

May 6-8, 2015 | Helsinki, Finland


Update: Deadline for abstract submission extended: The scientific committee decided to prolong the deadline for submissions until 15th December and for open stage until 5th January.

Is culture the fourth pillar of sustainability alongside the ecological, economic and social aspects? How does culture act as a catalyst for ecological sustainability, human well-being and economic viability?  What would our futures look like if sustainability was embedded in the multiple dimensions of culture?
This landmark conference explores the roles and meanings of culture in sustainable development. The new ideas generated in the conference will inform and advance understandings of sustainability with cultural studies and practices, and vice versa. The invited speakers of the conference are internationally well-known scholars and actors in this field:
Find out more about the sessions planned


A session of particular interest will be the session Artistic urban interventions: A sustainable heritage?

This session was organized by the Centre for Regional Science at Umeå University (CERUM), Sweden (a, b); Institute of Sociology and Cultural Organization (ISKO) at Leuphana University, Germany (c).

This session will address urban culture(s) in sustainable futures, with hindsight on a heritage of artistic urban interventions. How do artists problematize public space, private space and urban commons? Which experiences of place do artistic interventions bring? Which potentials do artistic interventions hold for relating urban cultural practices to the ecological, social, economic and cultural dimensions of sustainability? Where are the limits, risks and potential perverse effects of artistic interventions addressing issues of (un)sustainability?

Papers from scholars and practitioners are invited, who focus, investigate and problematize the heritage of artistic interventions into urban cultures, and who address future policy orientations. What do we know about the effects and impact of such interventions? Do they remain as monuments, as traces, as memories, as visions, as heterotopian islands, or as drivers for sustainability transformation?



Call For Papers open October 20 to December 5, 2014


The organizers are inviting proposals for paper presentations in 19 sessions within the following four thematic streams:

  • Linking cultural and natural: Cultural ecosystem services, biocultural diversity, capabilities
  • Framing culture(s) in sustainable development: Breaking the boundaries
  • Developing assessment tools for measuring culture in sustainable development: Theoretical and practical approaches
  • Landscape as heritage: A central idea for the role of culture in sustainability?
  • The role of participative and perceptive maps in building and preserving sustainable culture(s)


  • Operationalizing culture in the sustainable development of cities
  • Culture and politics of development: Ethical challenges
  • Cultural and creative industries and sustainable development: Miracle or myth?
  • The role of cultural policy/ies in sustainable development
  • Governing cultural heritage – Governing the future? The role of cultural heritage in sustainable development


  • Values in place: The interior dimension of sustainability
  • Local movements in sustainable transitions
  • Local museums and heritage sites: What roles in community transitions?
  • The roles of design in the quest for sustainable futures
  • Cultures of using and disposing


  • The nature-culture nexus for more sustainable and just protected areas
  • Strategic gardening: Mobilizing cultural aspects of gardening in sustainable development
  • The transformative potential of cultural and artistic endeavours for sustainable rural futures
  • Artistic urban interventions: A sustainable urban heritage?

For further information about the individual sessions within these thematic streams, please see:
Proposals from all disciplines will be considered, provided they make an original academic contribution to the study of culture and sustainability and explicitly analyse multiple dimensions of culture in sustainable development. The abstracts (250-300 words) should be submitted through an online submission system.



  • Call for transdisciplinary panels for debates on a specific theme among scientists, policymakers, and practitioners.
  • Call for contributions for posters, artistic expressions and performances to explore the relationship between culture and sustainability through different presentational forms, employing the methods of science and/or arts.

For further information, please see:


Selected full papers and other contributions will be published in conference proceedings and in a book within the recently launched book series “Routledge Studies in Culture and Sustainable Development.”
The conference is organised by the COST Action “Investigating Cultural Sustainability” ( and hosted by the University of Jyväskylä, Department of Social Sciences and Philosophy.
Submit your proposal and join the dialogue!

By Lena Felde

Lena is the Treasurer of Cultura21 Germany. She is studying Cultural Sciences (Mag. Art.) at Leuphana University Lüneburg, Germany.