Arguably, the arts and culture have never been more important than they are today. At a time of such rapid change and instability, we more than ever need to be reflective, empathetic, resilient and engaged citizens.
Participation in the arts and culture enables us to develop those skills critical to a world undergoing drastic change. This paper will draw on research undertaken by the Research Centre for Museums and Galleries (RCMG) at the University of Leicester, UK. It will consider what elements are required for us to address contemporary social issues. What values underpin this work? How do these pervade every element of what we do? How can we develop activist practices? What ethical issues do we need to consider? With a range of skills, expertise and approaches, how can we work collaboratively so as to ensure that some people’s views are not privileged over others? How do we make sure that this work has contemporary relevance? What impact can such work have? How do we express the experiences of participants? Why is this impact so important?
Central to all of these questions is how we value difference: by making it part of our strength, diversity is critical to our ability to thrive. Combining a variety of processes and case studies, this paper proposes a framework for action that will be adaptable to diverse contexts but also provide a rigorous underpinning to support cultural work that is concerned with contemporary social issues.
As part of Susannah Haslam’s PhD research on knowledge, dialogue and organization in the expanded field of art, she has been in conversation with Jonny Mundey, co-founder of the IF Project, an alternative, experimental and free university organization based in London. These conversations have cumulatively formed the basis of an ongoing dialogue that serves as both a reflective and productive space considering the combined roles of knowledge, the symbolic and the structural institutions of arts education, systems of value, the honorable execution of the political act and the nature and practice of an alternative and possible future arts education(s). These conversations have produced the dialogical essay, In dialogue - knowledge: its movement, value and organisation or, its criticality, values and struggle (Haslam and Mundey 2016). Developing this dialogue, new questions have emerged, less concerned with “the what” of the effects of the “intertwined phenomena of global financial crisis, mass migration and the perversion of new technologies,” but focussed more on addressing “the how” - that is, how best to move forward and work appropriately within these conditions. As a proposition alone, “Art and Design Education in Times of Change” requires a degree of reflexivity that must acknowledge the possibility of change as an active and pragmatic capacity. Questioning the efficacy of known politics, value systems, knowledges and epistemologies, infrastructures and notions of an alternative in relation to the institution of arts education, this dialogue proposes new forms of addressability when considering what the future of art and design education is in times of immense and precarious change.
This article is in three parts. The first part addresses the central theme of the title, “Challenges for the Arctic,” as viewed through the lenses of contemporary art and design practice as agents for change. We discuss developments at the University of Lapland and the Thematic Network, Arctic Sustainable Arts and Design (ASAD), which focuses on innovative ways of using contemporary art to address socio-cultural issues in diverse cultural contexts. In the second section, the theme of change is addressed. We reflect on developments in art education in the North, and a new study initiative located at the intersection of art and design practice that draws on the key strengths of both the art and design disciplines. Referred to as Applied Visual Arts, the studies require students to work on issues related to the Arctic and the circumpolar north, thus creating a challenging environment for students to create innovative solutions with community groups. The third part considers some of the opportunities that the unique socio-cultural and ecological conditions which exist in the Arctic afford. We discuss the roles of art and design and the potential benefits when they operate in collaboration with local partners. How might the techniques and methods of art and design be used for the benefit of local people and business?
The emphasis on art history in secondary school art education in the Swiss Canton of Bern is exceptional in contrast to the other German-speaking cantons, where art schools do without any academic art history training whatsoever in teachers’ education. What historical developments have led to the fact that the proportion of art history is so different in Swiss secondary school art education classes and teacher training? And what implications does the emphasis on art history have for art education teaching practice in Bern gymnasia? Since there exist hardly any fixed regulations for Swiss art education, it is the curricula and the experience of teachers that especially define the role and function of art history within the subject “Bildnerisches Gestalten” (Arts and Crafts). In this article we focus on the role of art history in secondary school art education in the Canton of Bern from 1994 to today. Methodologically, it combines an archival data analysis with oral history. Our study is led by the assumption that the history of Swiss secondary school art education can be approached by an analysis of the part art history plays within it. In addition to the structural implementation of art history in art classes, the research principally strives to reveal prevailing concepts of art mediated in Bern Gymnasia.