How can we approach and integrate experiences of ‘awe’ in emerging forms of art and design that aim to evoke societal transformations?

Over a decade, research on the transformative power of awe has grown exponentially demonstrating that experiencing awe has strong psychosocial benefits and leads to changing worldviews. Yet the research has been almost exclusively from psychology, with limited related exploration into emerging creative practices such as hybrid and immersive productions that create multisensory encounters. Also unaddressed thus far is the question of how awe experience can be extended to result in collective change and societal transformations. 

Increasingly creative practitioners are experimenting with new transdisciplinary, and co-creative practices to involve citizens, scientists, policymakers, and other-than-humans around urgent societal issues. The project aims to strengthen the development and impact of these so-called ‘transformative creative practices’ by exploring how experiencing awe can help better understand and create their transformative dynamics. 

As the first study in this new dynamic intersection of transformative creative practices and awe, the project focuses on practitioners’ creation of awe in their work. It coalesces disciplinary knowledge and practice to form a common language to understand, articulate, develop, and support the unique transformative potential of creative practices more comprehensively and justly. In doing so, the study also addresses the critical question of how the transient experience of awe enabled through creative encounters may be extended for broader societal impact.