NiTRO + Creative Matters

Perspectives on creative arts in higher education

Inside Tertiary Creative Arts today: Teaching innovation and attitude change

Inside tertiary arts organisations, changes have been taking place, particularly in curriculum design and teaching practice that are reshaping the learning experience for arts students.

Although academia has still to fully shake off some of the historical challenges to full and equal inclusion of creative arts practice, the system has moved forward in ways that many who experienced the Dawkins reforms could not have envisaged. In recent years, some universities have made significant investments in creative arts infrastructure with new buildings dedicated to arts practice and teaching, and of course public engagement, springing up across the country.

Inside tertiary arts organisations, changes have been taking place, particularly in curriculum design and teaching practice that are reshaping the learning experience for arts students. And although the research management system still has some way to travel if arts practice is to be equally recognised and funded, there are signs that attitudes towards artistic activities may be shifting.

In this edition of NiTRO:

Jodie McAlister (Deakin) shares how her fears of the effect of a commercially published book upon her academic career proved to be unfounded; Beata Batorowicz (University of Southern Queensland) reflects upon the influence of working in a regional university on her own practice.

Neil Haddon (University of Tasmania) and Patrick West (Deakin) describe new programs designed to recognise the realities of professional art practice while Ramesh Nithiyendran (UNSW) and Leah Coutts (Queensland Conservatorium Griffith) outline changing teaching practices designed to prepare Australia’s future cultural leaders and arts professionals.

Arlo Langham charts the experiences of a university co-sponsored Art Prize as he invites applications for the next round; and Lisa Grocott (Monash) explores the changing role of design.


More from this issue

More from this issue

Since the Dawkins Reforms, the role of higher education has expanded from focusing on knowledge generation and dissemination to preparing graduates for life beyond the institution. The need for creative arts education to meet graduate employment requirements and service industry expectations thus informs the courses and industry-situated opportunities our programs include and our pedagogical approaches to developing graduates who are industry-ready.

In late 2015, when I signed a deal with Penguin for my debut novel Valentine, one question I got asked over and over again was whether I was going to publish it under my own name or use a pseudonym.

As a Polish-born Australian artist, I draw on symbolically-charged narratives, such as fairy tales and folklore, to highlight the power of sub textual stories in subverting grand narratives of art history … My use of personal mythologies in critiquing established art narrative tropes have been further honed and ritualised through working at a regional university.

In 2016, Deakin University introduced the PhD by Prior Publications in the Creative Arts, as a sub-category of the existing PhD by Publication options.

Diversity. The word is thrown around a lot. As a contemporary artist, I’m witnessing a moment where, more than ever, institutions are being held accountable to certain standards for equity and diversity.

Thirty years ago, I had to repeatedly explain to my grandparents what I was studying at university - presumably, they felt about Design the way I feel when my kids tell me they want to be YouTubers when they grow up. Today, the litmus test for what people think design might be plays out every time I get into a cab.

In 2017 we introduced a new core-degree structure at School of Creative Arts which saw fresh commitment to social engagement, sustainability, the ethics of practice, and enterprise skill development … we developed a new approach to the teaching of art theory and history through praxis.

In November entries will open for the second Footscray Art Prize … a biennial event that rewards local and national artists, whilst seeking to contribute to Footscray’s reputation as one of Melbourne’s booming artistic and cultural areas.