By Ivan Lopez
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers predicts sea levels in South Florida will rise from three to seven inches by the year 2030 and from nine to 24 inches by the year 2060. A rise of that magnitude would put close to 30 percent of South Florida underwater, completely transforming our city in ways we cannot fully comprehend.
FIU’s College of Communication, Architecture + The Arts (CARTA) is bringing together dozens of faculty members and students from many different disciplines – theatre, dance, music, journalism, architecture, environmental science – to produce A Sea Change: a Multi-Disciplinary Collaboration in Response to a Global Threat. The 90 minute program will feature a lot of important research and facts presented in creative and impactful ways.
Phillip M. Church, associate professor of theatre, conceived and directed the evening. Church has spent much of his professional career creating art and theatre that speaks to important social issues.
“There is no greater threat to our survival right now than climate change,” he said. “FIU has been researching and raising awareness about climate change and sea level rise for well over a decade. We are at a point, however, where all of that research needs to transform into tangible action. That requires all of us, not just the scientists and policy makers. A ‘sea change’ is needed in our collective thinking about this issue.”
Robert E. Gutsche Jr., assistant professor of journalism and media, produced the evening.
“My hope is that this project takes people beyond awareness, even beyond expertise of specific areas of climate change. We need to find ways to engage knowledge with action. It’s not enough for people to know about an issue. We have to decide to do something about our problems.”
Renowned environmental artist Xavier Cortada will present an immersive interactive piece; FIU Professor of Music Orlando Garcia composed music especially for the event; and Adjunct Lecturer of Dance Crystal Patient choreographed some dance numbers.
Joel Murray, chair and professor of theatre, wrote a short play titled Good that addresses the impact art can have on social change.
“If it is strong enough, art can change the way people think. The real question though is does that change transform into action. Will it make the audience participate, roll up their sleeves and demand change.”
Other FIU Theatre artists participating in the event include Associate Professor Wayne E. Robinson, Jr., alumni Evelyn Perez, Zack Myers, Caitlyn Lincoln, Pia Vicioso-Vila and current student Sigrid Corvo.
A Sea Change is part of CARTA’s larger Climate Change Initiative, which aspires through teaching, research, engagement and creative work to position the college as a global thought leader in climate change information, adaptation, mitigation and resilience.
“Preparing for climate resilience is among the critical imperatives of our times, and our college is particularly well-positioned to address it,” said Marilys Nepomechie, associate dean and professor of architecture. “Climate change is a complex, multi-faceted challenge. One that can only be addressed successfully by involving many areas of expertise. This collaboration between multiple college departments is, in fact, absolutely perfect.”
A Sea Change will be shown on both campuses. On April 4, it will be performed at the Wertheim Performing Arts Center at Modesto A. Maidique Campus and on April 7 at the Mary Anne Wolfe Theatre at Biscayne Bay Campus. Both performances begin at 7:30 p.m. and are free and open to the public.
Space is limited. To make a reservation, call 305-348-0496. You can find more information about the event at eyesontherise.org/aseachange.