RCE Hangzhou[type]

Fostering Sustainability and Culture through Art-Driven Education
Basic Information
Title of project : 
Fostering Sustainability and Culture through Art-Driven Education
Contributing organization(s) : 
Zhejiang International Studies University School of Art, Hanns Seidel Foundation, Chinese German Education and Research Center of Land Management and Rural Development, RCE Hangzhou
Focal point(s) and affiliation(s)
Dominik Sprenger
Organizational Affiliation: 
Hanns-Seidel-Foundation Zhejiang Representative Office
Chen Haiping
Organizational Affiliation: 
Zhejiang International Studies University
Jiang Yunfeng
Organizational Affiliation: 
Zhejiang International Studies University
Format of project: 
Language of project: 
Date of submission:
Wednesday, August 30, 2023
Chinese National Policy of Ecological Civilization Education
At what level is the policy operating?: 
Chinese National and Local Policy of Revitalizing the Countryside
At what level is the policy operating?: 
Geographical & Education Information
Zhejiang Province
Address of focal point institution for project: 
Zhejiang International Studies University, No. 299, Liuhe Road, Hangzhou, Zhejiang, China 310012
Socioeconomic and environmental characteristics of the area : 
The Province of Zhejiang and its capital Hangzhou form a cradle of Chinese civilization. Moreover, with its high-tech industry (Alibaba & Geely) the region is a powerhouse of economic development in China. The natural environment of Zhejiang includes rivers, streams, lakes and mountains – West Lake scenery area in Hangzhou is listed as a UNESCO world heritage site. As the population structure transforms from rural to urban and the development of urban culture(s) diversifies, environmental awareness is currently increasing. This leads to a situation where public authorities as well as education provides are looking to develop new methods and policies that support sustainable development.
Description of sustainable development challenge(s) in the area the project addresses: 
Rapid economic development has led to serious environmental pollution and an erosion of local cultural identity. Traditional folk culture, that was in many ways more sustainable, has been replaced by modern lifestyles. Therefore, efforts to safeguard traditional folk culture must be intensified in all parts of society, including the rural population and national minority communities themselves as well as broader society.
August, 2023
The project uniquely employs a Whole Community Approach to Education for Sustainable Development (ESD), synergizing sustainable growth with the preservation of cultural heritage. In an era where rural locales are facing cultural attrition due to the allure of urban life, the project stands as a multifaceted countermeasure. It intertwines art, education, and sustainable living in a cohesive framework that allows participants to not just archive, but actively rejuvenate local traditions. This, in turn, amplifies public consciousness about the interplay between cultural preservation and sustainable practices.

This Whole Community Approach is critical for equipping rural inhabitants with expanded perspectives and competencies that empower them to improve their own lives and their communities. Concurrently, the project fosters a more expansive understanding of sustainability principles and individual responsibilities in environmental care. By skillfully integrating art and cultural elements into ESD, the project presents itself as a powerful exemplar for achieving the UN's Sustainable Development Goals at the community level. This inclusive strategy effectively bridges academic theory with real-world practice, and connects the educational realm with the broader community.
The primary objective of the project is to promote Education for Sustainable Development (ESD) by integrating art and local culture into a holistic educational experience. By encouraging students and faculty to document and reinterpret traditional artifacts through art forms like drawing and videography, the project aims to preserve cultural heritage while emphasizing its relevance to sustainable living. Furthermore, the project seeks to develop practical skills among rural residents, such as the ability to maintain agricultural machinery, thereby directly contributing to local economic sustainability. Overall, the project aims to create an interdisciplinary platform that fosters community engagement, enriches educational paradigms, and encourages sustainable practices.
Activities and/or practices employed: 
The project employs a multifaceted approach that combines art, education, and sustainable development. Faculty and students undertake expeditions to rural areas to engage in immersive cultural study. This includes documenting traditional objects through artistic means such as drawing and videography. The artworks and short films produced are then showcased in public exhibitions and online platforms, reaching a wide audience. In collaboration with local institutions, interactive programs are organized, like scavenger hunts that encourage community members to recognize and appreciate the value of their cultural artifacts. On a more practical level, skill-building workshops are offered to local residents to empower them in fields such as agriculture and machinery maintenance. This diverse range of activities not only serves educational purposes but also stimulates community participation, thereby fostering a deeper understanding and appreciation of sustainable development practices contextualized within local culture.
Size of academic audience: 
several thousand through the media and exhibitions
The project has garnered significant success in achieving its objectives of integrating Education for Sustainable Development (ESD) into local culture and economies. 18 drawings have been created just within two weeks, and videos produced by the team as well as the media have amassed several thousand views, highlighting the public's growing interest in traditional culture as a facet of sustainability. This has been reinforced through well-attended public exhibitions and interactive community programs. The project's impact extends beyond cultural preservation to include economic benefits for rural areas. Additionally, the project has fostered international collaborations that have broadened its reach and added new dimensions to its educational content. The blend of art, education, and sustainable practices has cultivated a rich, interdisciplinary approach that resonates with both local communities and the broader educational sphere.
Lessons learned: 
One key factor in the project's success has been its interdisciplinary approach, seamlessly integrating art, education, and sustainability. This has allowed it to resonate with a diverse audience and foster deeper community engagement. However, challenges include ensuring the authentic representation of traditional culture while adapting to modern sustainability practices. The project has also shown the value of international collaborations but highlights the need for effective cross-cultural communication to fully realize shared objectives. The opportunity lies in scaling the model to include more rural areas, thereby expanding its impact and serving as a blueprint for similar initiatives globally.
Key messages: 
The project uniquely blends art, education, and sustainable development to revitalize rural communities. Through artistic representation and interactive community programs, it preserves traditional culture while educating about sustainability. With significant public engagement and international partnerships, the project serves as an impactful model for integrated rural development.
Relationship to other RCE activities: 
The two-week "Summer School" is a key component of the broader "Travelling Eyes" initiative spearheaded by Zhejiang International Studies University. This program is intricately linked to the Hanns-Seidel-Foundation's commitment to sustainable rural development and aligns closely with RCE Hangzhou's work in Education for Sustainable Development.


File Name Caption for picture Photo Credit
Image icon Showcasing the Paintings.png (1.93 MB) Showcasing the Works of Art
Image icon Children at the Exhibition.jpg (86.82 KB) Children at the Exhibition
Image icon Shooting Videos with the Villagers.png (2.68 MB) Shooting Videos with the Villagers
Image icon Videoshoot with the local TV Station.png (1.93 MB) Videoshoot with the local TV Station
UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)
(https://sustainabledevelopment.un.org/sdgs) and other themes of Education for Sustainable Development (ESD)
SDG 1 - End poverty in all its forms everywhere 
SDG 4 - Ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all 
SDG 10 - Reduce inequality within and among countries 
SDG 12 - Ensure sustainable consumption and production patterns 
Traditional Knowledge  
ESD for 2030-Priority Action Areas
Priority Action Area 4 - Mobilizing youth 
Priority Action Area 5 - Accelerating sustainable solutions at local level 
I acknowledge the above: