Empathy and Sustainability

The Art of Thinking Like a Mountain is a 24-month transnational cooperation project among the Cyprus University of Technology (CY) as lead partner, Espacio Rojo (SP), Nature, Art & Habitat Residency (IT), National Academy of Theatre and Film Arts “Kr. Sarafov ” (NATFA) (BG), Umetnostna Galerija Maribor (SL), Vorres Museum (GR), Wisefour Ltd. (CY), and Fondazione Lamberto Puggelli (IT), which is co-funded by the Creative Europe Programme of the European Union. 

With this project, we adopt an innovative approach to advocating and acting upon environmental challenges by exploring the empathy-sustainability relationship through the arts. 

The project focuses on the power of arts to rebuild trust in a sustainable future and a more inclusive society, stimulating creativity in citizens to find solutions and opportunities for the future. EMPACT acknowledges the New European Agenda for Culture strategic objectives, by focusing on the promotion of cultural participation, the mobility of artists, the promotion of skills for artists and creative professionals, and the potential of arts to foster sustainable development and social cohesion. Considering the challenging recovery from the pandemic that society faces, we support that a participational empathic model is required, which will set the basis for dynamic actions and creations with regards to sustainability.

EMPACT aims at supporting a diverse set of cultural players to take an active role promoting empathy and sustainability in their respective local, national and transnational/European communities, advancing a better understanding of the ways in which empathy-related arts contribute to individual sustainability orientations and broader environmental sustainability.


EMPACT aims at supporting a diverse set of cultural players

The project initiates a dialogue between artists, sustainability experts, philosophers and social scientists, in order to explore the importance of empathy as a key to aid people tackle and act upon climate change. In that scope, it lies on two interconnected pillars:

  1. The facilitation of artists to produce, through sustainable practices, art that fosters an empathic stance towards non-human beings and nature, and thus effectively incorporate the concept of sustainability in their artistic production;  
  2. The necessity for artists and cultural workers to become empathic and resilient individuals in order to deal with the post-pandemic social and economic crisis. 

Το create sustainable art and raise public

The twofold model will allow artistic creations to be creatively challenged on and by the theme, while an in-progress identity reformation of the artists themselves will be consciously enhanced. The proposed set is designed on our belief that the concept of empathy and its conceptual derivatives can shed new light on how we understand and embody sustainability in the arts, and become the common theoretical ground of the two pillars. A core target is to use it as catalyst in order to create sustainable art and raise public awareness on the subject (empathy for nature and non-human beings – 1st pillar), and then take this new knowledge and transform it into a creative toolkit for the artists (empathic and resilient artists – 2nd pillar). This scope is by no means linear, since the two pillars are meant to constantly feed each other through the unfolding of the proposed actions.


To bring together artists, cultural institutions and key thinkers in creative sustainability, philosophy and social sciences to discuss and explore ways of intensifying the powers of art in tackling the key pillars of sustainability. 

To introduce, discuss and clarify the meaning of “empathy” in arts, which has important implications for artistic research, training and practice. This philosophical intervention is expected to function as a model for how philosophers, social scientists and sustainability experts engage with art, with the aim of achieving constructive change in both research and artistic practice. 

To support all genders, in all their diversity, artists, and cultural professionals to engage with mainstream research from philosophy, social sciences and sustainability studies on the role of empathy and perspective-taking in advocating for environmental issues. 

To offer artists training courses that will allow them to transfigure moral emotions (empathy, compassion, perspective-taking imagination) to new skills related to sustainable creation. 

To inspire the creation of innovative projects that address the empathy-sustainability relationship through arts and raise awareness on the challenges that climate change poses to environmental, physical and emotional health. 

To engage new audiences and establish an innovative, participatory approach to contemporary visual and performative arts. 

To support European artistic co-operation and mobility of artists and of artworks that redefine sustainability within an empathic and creative context. 


The project addresses people from the wider artistic and environmental sector who will directly and indirectly benefit from its implementation. Furthermore, it concerns their audience in assorted societal and professional target groups. All will get informed about the importance of empathy and aesthetics of compassion in sustainability research and contemporary society, and are expected to acquire new experiential knowledge. 

In particular, EMPACT’s target group is divided into direct target audiences and indirect ones. 

Direct Target Audiences 

  • Artists 
  • Cultural Professionals 

Indirect Target Audiences 

  • Arts and Cultural Management Students 
  • Professionals in the Creative Industries 
  • Museum and Cultural Organization Managers 
  • Professionals active in fields related to Sustainability Sciences and Local Communities 
  • Decision Makers in both Arts and Environmental Education 


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