NiTRO Creative Matters

Perspectives on creative arts in higher education

President’s Welcome: Edition 25

This bumper edition follows on from our successful and engaging leadership forum on 30 October, held at the Victorian College of the Arts, University of Melbourne. The forum connected many of our leaders across the practicing art disciplines and discussed the two most important aspects of what we do as educators, researchers and artists in the higher education sector, those of teaching & learning and creative research.

By Professor Clive Barstow

Welcome to the 25th edition of NiTRO. This bumper edition follows on from our successful and engaging leadership forum on 30 October, held at the Victorian College of the Arts, University of Melbourne. The forum connected many of our leaders across the practicing art disciplines and discussed the two most important aspects of what we do as educators, researchers and artists in the higher education sector, those of teaching & learning and creative research.

For both of these activities there are common threads that connect and to some extent frame how we work, such as quality and impact, measurement of outcomes, government funding and importantly how what we do prepares our graduates for a future workforce that is uncertain. What was clear at the forum was that what we do and how we do it produces high quality and relevant graduates that will make a major contribution to the questions about what it means to be human at a time when we most need it.

The keynote speakers at the forum were chosen for their expertise and experience in negotiating the turbulent waters of higher education. Professors Dawn Bennett (Education, Curtin University) and Russell Tytler (Science Education Deakin University) offered a view of teaching the creative arts from the perspective of STEAMM and the future skills needed by employers, confirming that our creative graduates are both well placed and highly valued.

The afternoon session focused on the measurement of NTRO’s with Professors Ross Woodrow (Griffith University) and Paul Gough (RMIT), resulting in an intense debate about the proven discrepancies between metrics-based measurement in STEM research and peer review assessments in the arts, and how we might create a respectful position by which arts funding is seen as an essential form of research rather than a public subsidy for self-indulgence!!  A review of the forum will be included in this edition of NiTRO

This edition is being edited by DDCA executive member Professor Kit Wise, picking up on the ACUADS conference that followed the leadership forum in which the art and design disciplines were interrogated in more detail. Kit focuses on the meaning of engagement in 2019, coinciding with the centenary of the Bauhaus school in Weimar at the end of world war one. A poignant reminder perhaps of how lasting and influential social systems and models of learning are often borne out of conflict. 

As a segue, war and conflict are the central themes of the creative practice of Professor Paul Gough, who will shortly be leaving Australia for the UK. Paul has made a significant contribution to RMIT and to the sector as a whole in his all too short a stay in Australia. From everyone at the DDCA we wish you well Paul and good luck in the next chapter of your academic and professional life.

I would also like to take this opportunity to thank Uni Super for their generous sponsorship of the DDCA forum, and Dr. Jenny Wilson, Tom Barton and Kay Morrissey for their tremendous help and support, without which the day could simply not have happened. The DDCA executive will reflect on the day’s events and discuss a strategy of how the DDCA can best represent the interests of its members as we move forward and grow.

We hope you find this bumper edition of NiTRO stimulating and informing.

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