Cross-disciplinary Project Work I

Katharina Gsöllpointner
Arts and Society, International Programs in Sustainable Developments
2022W, Projektarbeit (PA), 9.0 ECTS, 3.0 semester hours, course number S03707


In the line of experimenting with innovative learning and teaching structures, this course will be distinguished by features which are intended to reflect the idea of transformative and sustainable acting in the context of the semester topic "SPECIES".

It gives students an insight in selected methodologies in the conception and realisation of cross-discplinary group projects expanded by theoretical inputs, practical exercises, applied discussions, field excursions, and expert workshops.

The course is held by Katharina Gsöllpointner with support of Ulrike Payerhofer, and in cooperation with Elisabeth Kopf.


Starting from Donna Haraway’s iconic book “Staying with the Trouble. Making Kin in the Chthulucene” in the course we will spiral around the topics of multispecies live on earth, “becoming with”, sympoiesis, companion species, and staying with the trouble in times of terrible threats to our planet.

Interestingly, the United Nations’ 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development[1]  has identified 17 Goals and 169 targets to be reached by 2030, while not one of them is dedicated explicitly to the protection of non-human species on earth. Although the UN Agenda mentions the Goals to be “integrated and indivisible” to “balance the three dimensions of sustainable development: the economic, social and environmental” (UN Agenda 2015, 1), only SDG 15 (Life on Land) lists the protection of ecosystems and biodiversity as targets. The co-existence and interdependency of humans and non-human species otherwise does not get any explicit attention beyond a general acknowledging of the dependency of the human species from biodiverse ecosystems.[2] Even worse, the SDG 14 (Life below Water) mainly focusses on the ocean’s worth as a resource of marine food for humans and a livelihood for fishers.[3]

“Looking back” to other species means “respecere”, to respect. “To hold in regard, to respond, to look back reciprocally, to notice, to pay attention, to have courteous regard for, to esteem: all of that is tied to polite greeting, to constituting the polis, where and when species meet.” (Haraway 2008, 19)

Thus, we must ask, where is the well-being of all non-human species populating our earth and being so obviously the prerequisits for humans’ well-being, not to mention their role as fundamental part of the co-evolution with humans? Could the addressing of “A good life for all species!” become a solution to the often criticized division of the SDGs into 17 areas of desperately needed transformation, but all separated from each other? 

Artistic and cross-disciplinary projects have been suggesting new approaches to the SDGs by inter-weaving them , by entangling them with each other and thus forming and shaping for instance a tangible, and therefore sensually understandable, 3-dimensional cotton ribbon in 17 colors, representing critical reflection and possible solution at the same time. (e.g. Winiwarter 2021)

In the course students will conceive, develop, and realize cross-disciplinary group projects which approach the grand global challenges from the perspective of a multi-species co-habitation on the planet. Dealing with selected focus topics they will learn what it needs to integrate artistic, scientific, and transdisciplinary strategies in a project addressing “to constitute the polis, where and when species meet.”

Beside reading relevant literature the students’ course activities include a field trip to the Venice Biennale Arte on “The Milk of Dreams”  which deals with questions like “How is the definition of the human changing? What constitutes life, and what differentiates plant and animal, human and non-human? What are our responsibilities towards the planet, other people, and other life forms? And what would life look like without us?“,[4] a workshop with artist Jonas Staal on how to form alternative, non-state organizations for the rights of humans (and non-humans), a workshop with artist Susanne Schmitt on multispecies encounters, and – as the course’s focus – discussions and feedback sessions on the development of their cross-disciplinary group projects.

Final project presentations end of January 2023 will take place at project adequate locations.





Examination Modalities

Examination and grading is based on the following parameters:

- Mandatory attendance at all classes and activities (a successful completion requires at least 80%)

- Active participation during class

- Realising a cross-disciplinary group project

- Self-assessment

- A final paper (group work)

For a successful completion (12 ECTS) of the course, students have to register at both courses: Katharina Gsöllpointner (9 ECTS) and Elisabeth Kopf (3 ECTS):


The course is open to GCSD Angewandte enrolled students (in their 1st semester) as well as GCSD exchange students from Tongji University (in their 3rd semester).

The course takes place in presence and in accordance with the Angewandte  COVID-19 regulations.

Key Words

species, companion species, agency, intra-action, sustainable developments


10 October 2022, 13:30–15:30 Seminar Room 2 , "Preparation lecture by Monika Halkort + Marilyn Volkman for workshop w/ Jonas Staal on Oct.17"
11 October 2022, 12:00–16:00 Seminar Room 32 (preliminary discussion)
14 October 2022, 10:00–17:00, "Study trip Venice Biennale"
15 October 2022, 10:00–17:00, "Study trip Venice Biennale"
17 October 2022, 10:00–18:00, "Workshop w/ Jonas Staal in cooperation with MA Applied Human Rights"
16 November 2022, 14:00–17:00 Seminar Room 30 , "Presentation of concepts of cross-disciplinary group projects"
22 November 2022, 10:00–14:00 Seminar Room 30 , "Workshop w/ Susanne Schmitt"
23 November 2022, 10:00–14:00 Seminar Room 30 , "Workshop w/ Susanne Schmitt"
14 December 2022, 14:00–17:00 Seminar Room 30 , "Interim presentation of cross-disciplinary group projects"
25 January 2023, 14:00–17:00 Seminar Room 34 , "Final presentation of cross-disciplinary group projects"

Course Enrolment

From 15 August 2022, 09:00 to 18 October 2022, 18:00
Via online registration

Global Challenges and Sustainable Developments (Master): Managing Cross-Disciplinary Projects: Cross-Disciplinary Project Work I-II 565/001.01

Co-registration: not possible

Attending individual courses: not possible