Scoping Sustainable Aesthetics – Rethinking Nature, Man-Made Environment. XV International Summer Conference of the International Institute of Applied Aesthetics (IIAA) in Lahti, 12–14 June 2023.

The International Institute of Applied Aesthetics (IIAA) is organising its 15th International Summer Congress, titled “Scoping Sustainable Aesthetics – Rethinking Nature, Man-Made Environment.” With this three-day conference celebrating the IIAA’s thirty years of facilitating thought formation on environmental aesthetics, the aim is to bring together people interested in the interface between philosophical/applied aesthetics and those approaches that seek to enhance ecological and social sustainability.

The conference will be held mainly on-site in Lahti in the concert and congress centre Sibelius Hall. The IIAA is organising the conference in collaboration with the University of Helsinki, the Lahti University Campus, the Finnish Society for Aesthetics, the city of Lahti, and the Lahti Region.

With three keynote speeches and 14 sessions, the IIAA provides a view of sustainability-related research in philosophical and applied aesthetics. As a part of the parallel sessions, the conference also offers four panel discussions approaching sustainability questions from the perspectives of arts, cultural ecosystem services, architecture, and well-being.

The conference will host, as keynote speakers, Associate Professor of Aesthetics Roberta Dreon from Ca’ Foscari University of Venice, Environmental Philosophy Lecturer Henry Dicks from Jean Moulin Lyon 3 University, and Research Fellow Sanna Lehtinen from the Transdisciplinary Arts Studies unit (TAS) of Aalto University School of Arts, Design and Architecture.

Roberta Dreon will give her online keynote speech, entitled “Sensibility and Interest: Toward a Sustainable Attitude,” on June 12, at 1:30 pm (Helsinki, EEST, UTC +3). With this theoretical discussion, Dreon contributes to the environmental aesthetics dispute on disinterestedness by suggesting a distinction between an ontological meaning of aesthetic interest/involvement and the idea of engagement as fully embodied and embedded perception. Dreon’s recent publications include the book Human Landscapes. Contributions to a Pragmatist Anthropology (forthcoming, SUNY).

Henry Dicks’ keynote speech,“Biomimicry and Sustainable Aesthetics,” builds on diverse case studies concerning, for example, artificial meat and urban design to explore theoretical and practical possibilities for articulating and integrating the functional and aesthetic aspects of biomimetic design. Dicks will give his speech in Lahti on June 13 at 1:30 pm (Helsinki, EEST, UTC +3). Dicks’ recent publications include the book The Biomimicry Revolution: Learning from Nature how to Inhabit the Earth (2023, Columbia University Press).

In her keynote speech,“Aesthetic Sustainability in Urban Environments,” Sanna Lehtinen will present the concept of aesthetic sustainability as a tool for better understanding how environmental timescales unfold experientially and the aesthetic values of different types of environments develop over time. Lehtinen focuses on both the applicability of the concept of aesthetic sustainability within urban environments and also the concept’s background and history. Lehtinen is Founder and Co-Editor-in-Chief of Philosophy of the City Journal, and Assistant Editor of Contemporary Aesthetics. Lehtinen will give her speech in Lahti on June 14 at 1:30 pm (Helsinki, EEST, UTC +3).

The aim of the IIAA’s XV international conference is to identify the potential and challenges of sustainable aesthetics and to critically investigate its status in the contemporary world and influence on the future(s). Thus, “Scoping Sustainable Aesthetics” invites us to rethink the role of aesthetics in sustainable development and the contemporary transitions towards the environmentally sustainable and socially just well-being of both humans and non-humans.

The IIAA was founded in Lahti in June 1993 by the University of Helsinki, the City of Lahti, the Finnish Society for Aesthetics, and the Päijät-Häme Region University Association. The first Summer Congress was held in 1995, after the World Congress in Aesthetics in Lahti, under the title “Nature, Man-Made Environment.” The City of Lahti has offered a base for the IIAA since the beginning. The IIAA functions as part of the collaboration between the University of Helsinki and the Lahti University Campus.

Registration for the IIAA’s XV summer conference is open. The on-site registration fee covers access to the conference sessions, lunches and coffee as scheduled in the programme, and the City of Lahti reception. More information on registration and the conference programme can be found on the conference webpage. Please note that the conference programme remains subject to change.

More information

The conference webpage:

On the IIAA:

Noora-Helena Korpelainen, conference coordinator