Eco-Human Theory and Practice
ISSN 2713 – 184x
Eco Art Therapy
Ecological Education
The "Green" Arts


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Alexandrova Natalya Mikhailovna

D. Ped. Sciences, Professor, Head of Scientific Experimental
Pedagogical laboratory, Higher School of the Folk Arts (Academy)
(St. Petersburg, Russian Federation)



This article is devoted to an analysis of the current state of environmental education in an art university and the identification of priorities for its development. The goals and objectives of environmental education within an art university are presented. Negative factors causing a decrease in the level of environmental training at a university are identified. Examples of environmental education at the Higher School of Folk Arts (Academy) are given. Examples of artworks reflecting relationships between human beings and nature in the form of traditional applied art, which serve as a mandatory component of the educational approach, are presented. Directions for the development of environmental education in an art university are highlighted.

Key words: art university, environmental education, environment, educational standard.



Artistic universities are currently implementing a multidisciplinary model of environmental education (EE). The model provides for the development of environmental education, which is included in the curriculum programs of various modules of the curriculum, as well as in the content of the academic disciplines of the module “Elective Disciplines.” Familiarization with the theoretical basis of the scientific disciplines of ecology at lectures on academic disciplines is reinforced by practical training, i.e. practical works, including open-air practices.

The generalized goal of multidisciplinary environmental education is the development of those basic theoretical and experiential foundations of ecology that are important for the student, as well as for the graduate as a subject of professional activity. Important tasks that are solved at the university on the way to achieving this goal are as follows:

- Obtaining knowledge about the biological, personal, social, artistic, technological and creative aspects of ecology;

- The education of students in the principles of focused communication with the environment. The basic idea of ​​EE is to educate an environmentally competent, artistic profession of specialists, at bachelors and masters levels, based on the acquired environmental knowledge, skills and personal experience of communicating with nature.

However, the assessment of environmental knowledge and skills is not included in the final certification of students in mastering the content of academic disciplines. It is believed that the multidisciplinary model of EE used in education provides for the gradual assimilation of environmental knowledge and development of practical skills. This knowledge and associated skills, formed during the whole four-year (bachelor's degree), six-year (specialty) and two-year (master's) studies at the university, are revealed only in the last year, or rather, when completing the final qualification work. They can be evaluated in accordance with established professional competencies, which are independently put forward by universities. For example, the assessment of these competencies can be based on the demonstration in the landscapes or scenes from the relationship between animals or humans and animals, the careful attitude of people to nature, and the taking into account of the environmentally sound use by students of the waste of artistic and creative activities.

In the Federal State Educational Standards (GEF), in the directives for "Painting" or "Decorative and Applied Art and Folk Crafts", even in the module of general cultural competencies, environmental or nature-user competencies are not distinguished. There are competences indirectly related to environmental ones. For example, in the directive for “Decorative and Applied Arts and Crafts” (undergraduate level), competences were put forward: the ability to communicate to solve problems of interpersonal and intercultural interaction, and the ability to realize the social significance of one's activities and the responsibility for making decisions. If we consider that interpersonal interaction includes ecological and psychological requirements for a person, that social significance also implies environmental and social significance, and that professional responsibility is impossible without environmental responsibility, then the competencies established by the Federal State Educational Standard can be considered environmentally oriented.

However, as educational practice at the university shows, if the FSES does not clearly specify environmentally significant competencies, then their use by teachers is not provided for when creating curriculum programs. In this situation, there is a need to prioritize the development of environmental competencies by teachers of educational disciplines of the general cultural, and professional cycles and include them in the process of evaluating the learning outcomes and educating future bachelors, specialists, and masters.


The concept and experience of environmental education at an art university

We’ll consider this in more detail using the example of a specific St.-Petersburg art university, the Higher School of Folk Arts (Academy), which has existed since 2003. This institution provides training in several areas of art higher education:

- the main direction - arts and crafts and folk concepts and beliefs;

- specialty - painting, specialization "Artist-painter (church-historical painting)."

This university is the only one in Russia where artists are educated at the undergraduate and graduate levels in more than 20 types of traditional applied arts in our country. These include: Fedoskino lacquer miniature painting, Palekh lacquer miniature painting, Mstersky lacquer miniature painting, Kholuy lacquer miniature painting, Kirish art lace weaving, Vologda art lace weaving, St. Michael’s lace artwork, Izhevsk art lace weaving (Ivanovo line, Kadoma venise, sacral line, etc.), lower Etagil lacquer painting for metal, Kholmogorsk art carving in bone, Bogorodsk art carving in wood, lacquer painting for ceramics - Rostov enamel, etc.

The university has also developed the concept of environmental education. The program for its implementation provides for continuous environmental education and training as part of all educational areas and all courses. This is an EE system, implemented not only in higher education, but also in secondary vocational educational avenues, since the university trains artists and secondary professional level practitioners.

The system-unifying and system-forming characteristic of EE is its view of an environmentally competent professional discipline comprehended by future artists of a certain qualification and the development of special personality qualities, such as awareness of the enduring value of life, nature, and activity in their protection. In view of the fact that EE is the fundamental basis of any practical activity, and the basis for sustainable development, the content of EE in the training of artists includes health-saving technologies, personal and socially significant communications, and environmental responsibility for ongoing artistic and professional activities. The listed content of education does not contradict, but rather corresponds to and reveals the competencies established by the Federal State Educational Standard for secondary professional and higher art education.

Already within the content of academic disciplines (philosophy, history, Russian literature, etc.) constituting the general cultural module of the basic curriculum for bachelor artists in the field of specific traditional applied art, the Higher School of Economics presents information on the development of environmental knowledge in the history of the art and crafts of Russia, the essence of ecologically competent art and technology work, the philosophical and social significance of ecology and nature management, etc. The environmental content of these academic disciplines is supplemented by information on environmental impacts, its objects of study, and environmental laws and principles. This is because students enrolling in university from comprehensive school do not always have a clear understanding of the scientific areas of ecology (human ecology, social ecology, industrial ecology) and good knowledge of its fundamentals.

The educational module forming the basic part of the program includes such academic disciplines as: “Academic drawing,” “Decorative drawing,” “Academic painting,” and “Theory and history of traditional applied art,” which are taught throughout the university. These disciplines introduce students to the influence of certain chemicals contained in oils and paints, as forms of pollution affecting the artist’s health and the environment, and teach protective measures against such chemical pollution. The influence of anthropogenic factors on the environment and humans is increasing; students need to know about these in order to take safety measures during their educational, professional and future professional activities [5].

In addition, thanks to the introduction of the discipline "Theory and History of Traditional Applied Art" into the training of artists, there is increased opportunity to study in depth the historical roots of traditional crafts, and, at the same time, their historical and environmental significance for the development of human activities; as well as environmental features of the materials from which crafts are made.

In the content of the discipline "Decorative drawing," future artists learn to process an environmentally correctly executed (academic) drawing into a decorative one. The more faithfully and correctly from a bio-ecological point of view a drawing is made, the more accurate its decorative processing will be [3], which means that the quality of a particular artwork will increase. Figure 1 shows the decorative processing of plant nature, performed by a student O. Radakina, studying at the bachelor's degree in the field of "art metal".


Fig. 1 Natural and decorative corn drawings made by the undergraduate student. At the bottom of the picture is a jewelry item design

Hence, it is helpful to continue the formation of bio-ecological knowledge in the classroom in the disciplines of the art module of the basic part of the program.
The disciplines “Decorative Painting,” “Plastic Anatomy,” “Color Science and Coloring,” and “Academic Sculpture and Plastic Modeling,” within the art and performance modules of the variable part of the curriculum for the continuous development of environmental knowledge and skills contain information about the characteristics of the image of plants and animals of certain regions of Russia.

Figure 2 presents a variant of decorative processing from a picturesque image of an animal made by a student in the course "Decorative painting." Decorative processing of the full-scale image repeats the pose, movement, and general appearance of the animal. However, in accordance with the professional and artistic orientation of the artist’s education, the student performed a decorative process in the Nizhny Tagil style of decorative painting. This is indicated by features such as the carpal brushstrokes and roses depicting the beaver’s hair, as well as the thin curls called the binding in the Nizhny Tagil painting style.



Fig. 2. A full-scale image of a beaver (A), and its decorative processing (B) in the style of Kholuy lacquer miniature painting. Tomasheva Oksana, a third year student.

A special place in this series of academic disciplines is occupied by Plastic Anatomy. From the standpoint of environmental vocational education, it is intended to form knowledge about the movements of the muscles of the body that are safe for humans and the bio-ecologically correct image of people and animals moving or in a static pose.

The academic disciplines fixed in the variable part of the program according to the types of traditional applied art, the disciplines “Design,” “Composition of artistic embroidery,” “Technology and materials science,” “Performing skills in artistic embroidery,” continue to form environmental knowledge and skills, but are somewhat narrow in their professional scope.

One of the examples of this is the content of training in the discipline "Technology and Materials Science" in the profile "Kholuy varnish miniature painting." The content of this discipline must necessarily include information on:

  • the raw materials (for example, the chemical composition of canvases for painting made from papier-mâché,

  • art technology (for example, the environmentally friendly process of creating tempera paints on a natural basis),

  • The application of paints and varnish to a product that is safe for human health, and the environmentally significant physical, chemical, and aesthetic characteristics of the art products.

In the content of the discipline, through curriculum and textbooks created for study, teachers at the Higher School of Economics will introduce environmentally significant raw materials, the safe and comfortable use of equipment and tools for the artist, and the environmental characteristics of manufactured products.

Throughout their stay at the university, students are immersed in an environment that is comfortable for developing not only their creativity, but also possessing the property of learning to biologically and environmentally faithful forms of traditional applied art products. For this, teachers enhance and equip the classroom environments and workshops with the best examples of products of traditional applied art and their projects. Students, studying patterns and projects, delve into the historical-geographical and artistic-technological aspects of specific types of traditional applied arts, especially the habitats and their picturesque style of imagery.

For example, in the art works of Kholuy varnish miniature painting, we find masterfully depicted mountains, rivers, waterfalls and lakes [1]. Biological accuracy depicts the nature of coastal slopes, and the appearance and composition of plant communities and scenes from the lives of animals and humans (see Fig. 3, 4). The lacquer miniature by L.L. Nikonov (Fig. 4) depicts scenes of river fishing, rural life and the creative process of the miniature painter. This work of art, due to its characteristic artistic and stylistic features, like other works of traditional applied art, immerses students in the world of studying the relationship between the human being and nature, an important component of environmental education and upbringing.


Fig. 3 The plate "Who lives with fun, freely in Russia." 2012. Author: M.A. Ershov. Kholuy varnish miniature painting


Fig. 4. Plate "My Kholuy." 2014. Author: L.L. Nikonov. Kholuy varnish miniature painting

Another example of the artistically expressed relationship between the human being and nature is the dress “Solar Poppies” made by a graduate of a bachelor's degree, V. Petryanova in the “Lace Artistic” style (Fig. 5).

The lace dress "Sun Poppies" is made in the traditional coupling technique of bobbin weaving. It is a unique modern product of lace art, in view of the fact that it does not repeat any of the known types of lace weaving (Vologda, Yelets, Mikhailovsky, Izhevsk, Ryazan, Kirish, etc.). This type of lace weaving can be attributed to the modern look formed at the Higher School of Economics. It is characterized by a combination of threads of different fineness, composition, and appearance, as well as the inclusion of lace elements that were not previously used in lace art. For the first time in the history of lace art, a mohair thread was used both in the background (white mesh) and in the main pattern of the product.

Sun glare is depicted as the brightest white background grid. On it, decoratively executed poppies look not only beautiful, but also festive–the feeling a person might experience when looking at poppies on a sunny day.


Fig. 5. Dress "Sun Poppies", created by V. Petryanova, 2015. Materials: mohair, floss.

Garden poppies are very large flowers, and on the dress poppy flowers and leaves are also large. The hair-covered leaves of the decorative poppy are depicted on the dress using mohair thread. The natural ruggedness of the leaves and the general eccentricity of the plant are evoked by the dress, not only by the geometry of the leaf images, but also by the unevenness of the dress hemline and the sharply protruding leaves and flowers forming the neckline.

What is surprising in this dress is that it shows flowers from the “front” and in “profile.” This is authentic from the standpoint of a person looking at flowers growing in front of him/her. Only one or two flowers are seen, as it were, from above (in front), most are seen differently. In conclusion, we can say that the student was able to perfectly convey the harmony, beauty and power of the poppy, as well as a sense of admiration on a sunny day.

The study of such works of traditional applied art motivates students to implement a creative idea using environmental interactions. And this becomes an necessary requirement for the performance of artworks in traditional applied art.



The examples given above illustrate the current state of EE in an art university, namely, increased attention to the study of the biological foundations of ecology and the transfer of environmental knowledge using artistic and technological means of expression in works. Given this, as well as strengthening the anthropogenic impact on humans and the living environment [2], the priorities for the development of EE in an art university are:

- Adjustment of the teaching curriculum for the disciplines of all parts and modules, to be carried out periodically by teachers, taking into account environmental issues, human health, the professional training profile, and the biological and ecological level of students' knowledge and skills;

- Development of criteria-based assessment of students' environmental knowledge and skills, and their inclusion in the process of assessing training in academic disciplines and practices;

- The ongoing search for, and application of, innovative methods, tools and forms of environmental education, taking into account the artistic orientation of the arts and the possibilities of the cultural and educational space of the university.



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  2. Лакарова Е.В Влияние вредных и опасных факторов окружающей среды на подростков в мегаполисе / Е.В. Лакарова // сетевой электронный журнал «Традиционное прикладное искусство и образование». – 2019, № 4. Адрес доступа

  3. Ломакин М.О. Декоративный рисунок в подготовке бакалавров по конкретным видам традиционного прикладного искусства: дис. ... канд. пед. наук: 13.00.08. – М., 2009. – 190 с

  4. Профессиональная педагогика: учебник для студентов, обучающихся по педагогическим специальностям и направлениям / под ред. С.Я. Батышева, А.М. Новикова. – Издание 3-е, переработанное. – М.: Из-во ЭГВЕС, 2009. – 456 с.

  5. Тенетилова Л.А. Влияние антропогенных факторов окружающей среды на человека в современных условиях / Л.А. Тенетилова // Вестник сельского развития и социальной политики. – 2016, № 4 (12). – С. 78-84.


Reference for citations

Aleksandrova, N.M. (2020). Priorities for the development of ecological education in the art university. Ecopoiesis: Eco-Human Theory and Practice, 1(1). [open access internet journal]. – URL: (d/m/y)

DOI: 10.24412/2713-184X-2020-1-34-40


About the journal

In accordance with the Law of the Russian Federation on the Mass Media, the Federal Service for Supervision of Communications, Information Technology and Mass Communications (Roskomnadzor) on September 22, 2020, the web-based publication - The peer-reviewed scientific online journal "Ecopoiesis: Eco-Human Theory and Practice" was registered (registration number El No. FS77-79134).

“Ecopoiesis: Eco-Human Theory and Practice” is the international multidisciplinary Journal focused on building an eco-human paradigm, disseminating eco-human knowledge and technology based on the alliance of ecology, humanities and the arts. Our journal aims to be a vibrant forum of theories and practices aimed at harmonizing the relations of mankind and the natural world in the interests of sustainable development, the creation of Eco-Humanity as a new community of human beings and more-than-human world. The human being is an ecological being, not separate from the world. The Ecopoiesis journal is based on that premise and aims to develop a body of theory and practice within that framework.

The Journal promotes dialogue and cooperation between ecologists, philosophers, doctors, educators, psychologists, artists, musicians, designers, social activists, business representatives in the name of eco-human values, human health and well-being, in close connection with concern for the environment. The Journal supports the development and implementation of new environmentally-friendly concepts, technologies and practices in the various fields of health and public life, education and social work.

One of the priority tasks of the Journal is to demonstrate and support the significant role of the arts in their alliance with ecology and the humanities for the restoration and development of constructive relations with nature, raising environmental awareness and promoting nature-friendly lifestyles.

The Journal publishes articles describing new eco-human concepts and practices, technologies and applied research data at the intersection of humanities, ecology and the arts, as well as interviews and conference reports related to the emerging eco-human field. It encourages artwork, music and other creative products related to eco-human practices and the new global community of Eco-Humanity.