On Beauty and Justice

As part of a year long initiative, The Art of Change, The Ford Foundation convened a group of artists, experts and thinkers engaged in understanding what makes for a meaningful life and a vibrant society. While the arts are often defended as instrumental to these, arguments for their economic value have left little room for discussing dimensions of life we intuitively hold to be essential to the well-being of individuals and society. Together we explored whether and how Beauty might be an agent of social change and justice, and also a fundamental right and need.

Learn more

There are indications that we may be seeing a shift in larger society—a pushback against the hyper-capitalist and materialist values that so dominate our lives today. There is growing interest—not only among spiritual leaders, artists, and philosophers, but also among economists, social scientists, and policymakers—in more holistic approaches to thinking about personal and social development. These approaches recognize the importance of humanistic principles, and challenge the premise that maximizing economic value is or should be the primary project of our lives as individuals and as a society. This has implications for the way we understand the value of art—and art itself may be a powerful agent for propelling this shift.