Doctoral thesis: Artistic Actions for Sustainability: Potential of art in education for sustainability


In her doctoral research Ásthildur B. Jónsdóttir focussed on the potential of art in education for sustainability in the context of teacher education and art creation.

Sustainability is a contested concept and EfS takes several forms depending on the definition of the concept. Ásthildur used the definition of finding a balance between well-being and the integrity of nature. Concepts from critical, place-based and visual culture art education are fundamental to this research. Both action research and art-based research are used to explore the role that art and art education might play in Education for Sustainability (EfS). These two approaches created a space where she was able to gain a better understanding and awareness of EfS.

In the early stages Ásthildur focused on her own work practices and context to explore the core of the pedagogy she wished to understand. Research on two courses conducted annually within the Iceland Academy of the Arts teacher education programme formed the foundation of the research which spanned six years. She found two important issues emerging in the discourse found in the practice and education of art teachers for sustainability.

One issue led her to design interventions addressing virtues and values, in particular the WIG, a spring workshop in the Reykjavík Botanical Garden which involved student teachers from the Icelandic Art Academy and pupils from a local elementary school. The other issue was the significance of participation in developing the kind of conduct, character and manner needed for action competence, a core concept in planning sustainability education. Findings were presented in seven articles, three exhibitions and a final review, in addition to being discussed at conferences and regional courses.

Information on the defence

What is unusual about Ásthildur’s research is not only that she carried it out in a joint doctoral programme from University of Iceland and University of Lapland but that she has also fulfilled the requirement for two degrees. On 4th July 2017 she will defend her thesis in order to be awarded a Ph.D. in Education from the University of Iceland and a Doctor of Art degree from the University of Lapland.

The doctoral candidate

Ásthildur Jónsdóttir is an assistant professor in the Department of Arts Edicatopm at the IAA. Her research interests include art and cultural movements that support sustainable development and Education for Sustainability at all levels, within both formal and informal contexts. She has curated exhibitions, developed curricula and taught in public and private schools in both lower and upper secondary level and colleges, in community centers, with people of all ages and backgrounds in Iceland, Geneva and New York.

Ásthildur has B.Ed. degree specialising in art education. M.Ed. degree in information and computer technology in (ICT) in art education from University of Iceland. She has a MA degree from New York University (NYU), Steinhardt School of Culture, Education, and Human Development. Currently she is a doctoral candidate at the University of Iceland and Lapland University, Finland doing a joint degree looking at the potential of art in education for sustainability.

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Information on the publication
Ásthildur B. Jónsdóttir: Artistic Actions for Sustainability: Potential of art in education for sustainability. Acta Universitatis Lapponiensis 355. ISBN 978-952-337-015-9. ISSN 0788-7604, Hansaprint Oy, Turenki, Finland, 2017. Pdf: Acta electronica Universitatis Lapponiensis 222. ISBN 978-952-337-016-6. ISSN 1796-6310.