NiTRO Creative Matters

Perspectives on creative arts in higher education

Edition 6, 2017 – Tertiary creative arts in an international context

The global classroom project launched in 2013 and so far over 450 students in London, Hong Kong, Singapore and Vietnam have supported each other’s learning by sharing resources and providing local research as well as peer reviewing each other’s work facilitated through a private Facebook group.

Until 2016, the Bachelor of Natural History Illustration offered at the University of Newcastle (UON) was the epitome of a ‘boutique’ degree. The only program of its kind offered in Australia − and one of only a few offered internationally - it is unique in that it brings together specialised scientific content and an understanding of the environment with creative and design skills.

The 2006 World Congress on Arts Education, held in Lisbon, Portugal resulted in an important document for arts education- the UNESCO Roadmap for Arts Education. Reflecting UNESCO’s themes of access and equity, its main aims were to: uphold the human right to education and cultural participation; develop individual capabilities; improve the quality of education and promote the expression of cultural diversity.

In late June 2017, 10 undergraduate students from the Tasmanian College of the Arts (TCotA), University of Tasmania, along with myself and colleague Lucy Bleach will undertake a 3–week international field trip covering 4 cities to experience a once-in-ten-year alignment of Documenta 14 and the Münster Skulptur Projekte.

Just this week, I was invited to participate in a seminar on Pacific art and activism, in which I had the honour of standing alongside some truly magnificent Pacific Islander artists who are engaged in the academy, but who also produce creative works that question and confront the epistemological assumptions that underpin institutions like universities in colonial and post-colonial settings

“Have a great day: successful, whatever that means.” Christoph Dahlhausen gave me this order a few minutes ago—a sentence punctuated with the door swinging shut behind him as he left for a meeting. Christoph is an artist in residence, but not an artist in residence at RMIT - he is an artist in my residence—a houseguest, a friend, a colleague and a mentor.

As filmmakers and film teachers we share neither an aesthetic nor an ethic. Even more tragically we make films and teach others to make them without relating the one to the other. How the practice became separated from the purpose or the aesthetic from the ethic, predates the invention of the medium. Our schools could, and perhaps should, be the place where every next generation is reminded of that essential relationship, but our curriculum not only separates form from content, it hardly ever confronts the question of how the one affects the other

Writing in The Huffington Post,  John M Eger, Director of the Creative Economy Initiative at San Diego State University said:

“art serves so superbly as a universal language — as a means toward understanding the history, culture, and values of other peoples. As human beings build virtual bridges into unknown cultural territory — and there learn, share dreams, and creatively work together—mankind will know itself as citizens of a rich and truly global society.” (1)

Creative art is global. It ignores national borders to share ideas, concerns and possibilities with societies, and other artists, irrespective of geographic location.