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Courses / Modules / MUSI3159 Sounding Equality: A Sustainable Music History

Sounding Equality: A Sustainable Music History

When you'll study it
Semester 1
CATS points
ECTS points
Level 6
Module lead
Thomas Irvine
Academic year

Module overview

What is a “sustainable” music history? Anything that suggests present accountability towards the future can be called sustainable. The crisis of global heating illustrates what we mean: present convenience is destroying our future. The UN Sustainable Development Goals are a catalog of targets and areas of concern from “no poverty” (SDG 1) to “peace, justice and strong institutions” (SDG 16). The SDGs mean to put care for the future into practice. Thinking with final-year students about musical culture can be a very good way to teach the SDGs. Our starting point is that music has been, and can be, crucial to human well-being and flourishing in any culture. The module engages with material aspects such as energy use and conservation of resources in music history, starting with how the European extraction of natural resources in the Meso and South America from around 1500CE fuelled new styles and forms of music to current questions around the (un)sustainability of music streaming platforms. But it also goes beyond these, to consider the sustainability of past, present and future models of organising musical life by examining questions such as the history of musical labour, current challenges around the impact of technology on musical careers and the future of human music-making in light of the AI revolution. All of these issues demonstrate the relevance in the music classroom of SDGs relating to well-being, equality, decent work, reduced inequalities, sustainable cities, responsible consumption and partnerships for the goals themselves.

The module is based on a research project led by the module lead and his collaborator Prof Christopher J Smith (Texas Tech University/USA), who will be teaching a parallel module at his institution. Where possible and practical the two groups will share experiences (for example using web-based collaboration tools.)