The SoA examines connections between creative practice and notions of survival. In light of growing cultural, ecological and technological phenomena that challenge basic assumptions about human existence, the SoA offers courses and programming that seek to develop new modes of inquiry and apply broader levels of experience to intellectual investigation.
The SoA has no fixed definition of apocalypse or survival, but engages with the fundamental questions that the themes provoke. We understand the creative potential of a school to be a space in which shared experience generates deeper insights and can lead to alternative cultural systems.
The school invites a range of thinkers, artists and scientists to present programming on related themes. Subjects of study are theoretical as well as hands on, and emphasize the integration of observational and material practices found in mystical traditions, creative modalities and scientific field work.
We hope that people see the SoA as more than a program of study, but as a school of thought that exists already, albeit in disparate form, throughout culture at large.
While courses vary in length, format, subject matter, and methodology, the following goals and guiding principles apply to all SoA programming, with the aim that participants and faculty:
- Define and redefine survival
- Broaden perceptive capacities
- Model alternative cultural systems
- Connect theory and practice
Furthermore, SoA pedagogical principles mean that courses are:
- Place-based, so that participants are fully engaged in the space and are active agents in creating and recreating the place in which the learning occurs
- Participatory, with opportunities for participants to influence the content or structure of the program
- Experiential, such that multiple modes of learning are engaged simultaneously
- Collaborative, so that a community of shared values emerges and the interconnections between self and other come to the fore
Curriculum - How to Participate
Anyone can participate in SoA programming at any time. The core platform for participation is the monthly meeting, which convenes the third Monday of every month. Each session centers around presentations and discussions led by invited speakers.
Once a quarter (July, October, January, April) the meeting opens itself to proposals from attendees who wish to bring projects for consideration to the larger group. People who present in the quarterly meeting should have participated in at least one of the monthly meetings. Based on a vote, select proposals are then invited to make expanded presentations at another session.
The third level of participation is the working group. Working groups convene around specific projects or areas of research to produce documentation in the form of writing, exhibits, podcasts, performances, campaigns etc. Working groups are organized by SoA members and appear on the calendar, and can also form spontaneously among meeting attendees who wish to collaborate on shared interests.
Membership in the SoA is not necessary to participate in any of the formats, but people who are interested in defining a closer commitment to its purpose and vision are welcome to write letters outlining their desire to SoA@pioneerworks.org.
Courses & Working Groups
Tal Beery is an artist, activist, and educator from New York City. He is Co-Director of Eco Practicum, an environmental leadership program committed to the New York City bioregion, and is the former Director of Camp Shomria, a 100 year old democratic education facility in the Sullivan County Catskills in New York. He previously served as the educational director for Hashomer Hatzair, the international Socialist Jewish youth movement and has facilitated collective processes for new communes. As an artist, Beery’s personal and collaborative works have been exhibited internationally. He is a core member of Occupy Museums, a founding member of Debt Fair, and a founder of the Best Praxis collective, which creates art and performance through intimate encounters, adaptive reuse, and place-making. Beery’s written work and interviews on art and social change have been published in numerous publications. In 2006, Beery was awarded the Dutcher Prize and Center for the Humanities Fellowship from Wesleyan University and is also the recipient of a 2007 formal commendation from the Mayor of the Village of Barta’a, Palestine, for his educational initiatives in collaboration with Kvutzat Orev.
Catherine Despont is a writer, editor and educator. She has an MFA in Fiction from Columbia University, and her writing and teaching focus on the values and beliefs that underlie the way we learn and teach. As Co-Director of Education at Pioneer Works she organized the first annual Summit on Pedagogy in June 2015, and runs a popular monthly forum on education called the Teaching Roundtable. She also oversees PW’s publishing projects including the bookstore, Pioneer Books, and the Groundworks book series; she is editor of Intercourse, the magazine.
Eugenia Manwelyan is a dancer, choreographer, and educator. She is a co-founder and Director of Eco Practicum, and is the Managing Director of the Food + Enterprise Summit. As a visiting faculty at Columbia University, Eugenia has worked on environmental planning and arts projects in India, Vietnam, and Jordan, as well as a youth theater and peace-building project in Israel and Palestine. With a passion for democratic education and civic engagement, Eugenia is committed to taking part in the effort to reorient humanity toward sane and respectful coexistence with one another and the environment.
Adam Stennett creates conceptual works from a post 9/11 perspective, investigating issues that affect our global society and their ramifications on the American psyche. Well known for his renderings in oil and acrylic, Stennett delved into sculpture and performance with The Artist Survival Shack. On August 1, 2013, Adam Stennett began a month-long installation/endurance performance, living and working in the 6.5 x 9.5 foot, self-sufficient, off-the-grid survival shack at an undisclosed location on the East End of Long Island. The supplies, food and water Stennett arrived with were all he had access to, and he did not leave the area for the thirty-one day duration of the performance. The artist’s mission was to survive physically and spiritually, and to create a new body of work that would be exhibited along with the Artist Survival Shack itself at the conclusion of the performance.