Photography Exhibit Challenges Students to Consider Environmental Impact of Innovation

The Magnuson Center’s Social Entrepreneurship Program worked with the Hood Museum to create an exhibit that highlighted the tension between innovation and sustainability.

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Students and staff gathered last week at the Hood Museum of Art to consider a selection of environmental photography curated to facilitate a discussion about the impact of entrepreneurship and innovation on natural resources. 

“Is it important to bring people together on this topic,” says Kathleen Burke, Program Manager for Social Entrepreneurship. 

Hood curators Elizabeth Mattison and Isadora Italia selected photographs that highlighted extractive industries, and begged the question of environmental sustainability amid innovation, Burke says. 

“The core of the event was to resolve the tension between being attached to a place, and caring about a place and sustainability, while also dealing with the negative externalities of doing business,” Burke says.

“We had a lively discussion about the role of place, the specificity of a place and natural resources that it has, the ways in which business directly affects a place, and how a venture is shaped by its location.”

Students were urged to consider the emotions that each photograph invoked, and what the future might look like for the place depicted. Any social entrepreneurship venture must consider its environmental impact. 

“It’s definitely part of the process to consider for entrepreneurs,” Burke says. Ideally, entrepreneurs can “extend that one stop further and have a positive impact on the environment.”

Working with the Hood to co-sponsor the event highlighted the interdisciplinary approach that is critical to entrepreneurship. 

"There’s ongoing efforts to do things with the Hood and the Hopkins Center for the Arts,” Burke says. “The perspective of art is useful because artists themselves are also entrepreneurs.”