NiTRO Creative Matters

Perspectives on creative arts in higher education

What do they think of us?

By Dr Jenny Wilson — Although governments and funding bodies seem determined to place academic teaching and research into neat (measurable and quantifiable) boxes, academics themselves are starting to breach the historical silo walls that have constrained collaboration and understanding.

Leonardo da Vinci is reported to have said: “Study the science of art; Study the art of science. Learn how to see. Realise that everything connects to everything else.”

But disciplinary stereotypes retain a powerful influence. We have all come across stories of non-arts academics portraying creative arts research as “fluffy entertainment” and treating tertiary creative arts as unwelcome and unworthy visitors to the institutional budget table. How generalised are these attitudes? Do they really reflect how those outside creative arts actually see us and the value of our disciplines?

In this edition of NiTRO we explore how non creative artists reflect upon our contributions, the issues that we face and the benefits that we might bring.

Psychologist David Pearson, (Anglia Ruskin University) points out how the stereotypical fallacy of right and left-brain thinking disadvantages both arts and science

Geographer and artist, Kaya Barry (Griffith) notes the growing interest of social scientists to work with creative artists but argues the need for artists to carefully consider the role that they play in research collaboration.

Educationalist Peter Charles Taylor (Murdoch) considers how current science education can be improved by connecting with arts.

Cultural economist Bronwyn Coate (RMIT) discusses the influence of labels and expectations applied to artists and the impact that this has.

Craig Batty (UTS) and Claire Corbett (UTS) share the experiences of counterterrorist experts attending a creative writing workshop.

We also introduce a new “Long Read” feature written by US academic Ben Shneiderman (University of Maryland) who, with the kind permission of the US National Academy of Science, has enabled us to republish his introduction to the Sackler colloquium on arts-science collaboration from a science and engineering perspective.

More from this issue

More from this issue

Editor’s introduction — Professor Ben Shneiderman is one of the leading researchers in the US. He is Distinguished University Professor in the Department of Computer Science, Founding Director (1983-2000) of the Human-Computer Interaction Laboratory and a Member of the UM Institute for Advanced Computer Studies (UMIACS) at the University of Maryland. He is a Fellow of the AAAS, ACM, IEEE, and NAI, a Member of the National Academy of Engineering and holds an honorary doctorate from the University of Melbourne.
By Dr Kaya Barry — The social sciences have had a fruitful relationship working closely and collaboratively with creative artists. Practice-led approaches to ‘doing’ research are becoming more widely accepted and permitted in disciplines beyond the arts, and are increasingly seen as a valuable way to build engagement with communities and public audiences. But as enthusiasm for ‘creative’ modes of knowledge gain traction, the role of creative researchers, and the levels of their involvement in collaborations needs to be carefully considered.
By Dr David Pearson — Even before the COVID-19 crisis gripped the globe the creative arts were facing serious challenges. In the UK there was widespread dismay at the Augar report proposal that university tuition fees could be linked to graduate income, a move that would massively disadvantage arts and humanities courses [1].
By Dr Bronwyn Coate — It’s interesting how labels can shape perceptions. Often, we pay special attention to these as important pieces of information that become amplified in their relevance to reveal something about ourselves as well as the object to which they are applied. To illustrate: Say we are told that a certain artist is represented by a certain gallery.
By Professor Craig Batty and Dr Claire Corbett — How might creative writing help a group of counter terrorism officers go about their job? This might sound provocative, but it was a real outcome of a recent workshop that we ran for the 2020 Sydney Festival.
By Dr Peter Charles Taylor — Since the Age of Enlightenment, which gave birth to the modern scientific worldview, education systems have engaged students of science in learning to understand objectively - at arm’s length - the world out there: the material world of naturally occurring objects and events.