Our societies are currently facing tremendous social challenges and ecological threats, such as climate change, environmental
collapse, mass migration, violations of human rights, social inequality and poverty, the slow erosion of democratic systems
and constitutional structures, and mass unemployment in times of digital transformation. Global challenges touch upon many
facets of human existence, be it in a material, economic, environmental, social, cultural, technological, political, medical,
aesthetic or moral sense, and cannot be tackled by a single discipline alone.
Today an increasing number of universities seek to contribute to solving major societal and ecological challenges — demonstrating
the value of university research and education. However, the nature of global-challenge-programmes is most notably cross-disciplinary
and requires collaboration across sectors and disciplinary boundaries, and is therefore not in tune with the social and administrative
contours of our modern disciplines and their subsystems, which exhibit a high degree of specialization.
Disciplines have established themselves as efficient systems of knowledge production and dissemination of scientific knowledge
acquisition over the past two hundred years, and are the driving forces behind those administrative structures that foster
the fragmentation of curricula in our systems of higher education. Yet whether highly specialized, disciplinary studies will
be able to meet the demands of a world in transition is being increasingly called into question today.
Currently, a whole range of alternative models is being explored in the field of higher education, ranging from interdisciplinary
courses to solid holistic approaches that aim to bring the full diversity of human ways of knowing and capabilities together
in an integrative educational approach.
Integrative study models consciously seek to bridge the gap between different forms of knowledge and understanding, as well
as the different pedagogical approaches of a variety of disciplines, such as the humanities, the arts, the natural sciences,
engineering, mathematics, and medicine, as well as new technologies to prepare students better for work, life, and twenty-first
century citizenship. Learning outcomes associated with integrated education, such as critical and holistic thinking, communication,
and teamwork skills and abilities for lifelong learning, are more and more favoured in a world that is confronted with enormous
strides in technology, including artificial intelligence, machine learning, robotics, and communications.
On April 16, 2019 Ingeborg Reichle will also visit the Bio Art Lab at the School of Visual Arts in New York City. The lab
was founded some years ago by the US-American artist Suzanne Anker, chair of the SVA BFA Fine Arts Department, due to the
fact that from anatomical studies to landscape painting to the biomorphism of surrealism, the biological realm historically
provided a significant resource for numerous artists. More recently, Bio Art has become a term referring to intersecting domains
of the biological sciences and their incorporation into the plastic arts. Of particular importance in Bio Art is in Susanne
Anker’s perspective to rise awareness of the ways in which advancing biotechnologies alter social, ethical and cultural values
in society. The SVA Bio Art Lab is a fusion of a 19th century cabinet of curiosities with a state of the art biotechnology
laboratory. In addition to housing specimen collections, herbariums, aquariums, microscopic photo & video stations, and a
diverse library, the space facilitates culturing organisms, sterile techniques and a range of molecular biology protocols.