GLAD Group for Learning in Art and Design. 2015

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In attendance at the GLAD conference, celebrating 25 years since it’s founding. It launched with a provocative opening keynote by one of its founders, Simon Lewis, PVC and Head of College at Nottingham Trent. The initial session focused on the ‘Massification’ of Education with T&L academic David Vaughn, David Buss UCCA and Linda Drew, GSA and new Director of Ravensbourne.

The focus of this session revolved around; What is the purpose of art & design in higher education? What does it mean to be well-educated in art and design? What are the relevant forms of knowledge of the art & design discipline?

The panel spoke of the consequences of many Art Schools and A&D colleges now becoming subsumed by Universities (e.g. Edinburgh College of Art). Using as example art and design educators coming up against very bright people from subject disciplines; academics who ‘knew about more about the concepts of creativity than they did’. ‘Creative disciplines have since become more theorised’. It was suggested that perhaps practice is something that universities don’t really understand. And that we would do well to look outside of education for the new streams of enquiry that can lead to better native models. So where does A&D fit in the academic structure of the University? Is its natural place with the Humanities? Simon Lewis proposed that ‘humanities people are different kinds of people’, and that the ‘Humanities are like a Trojan Horse to art and design education’, citing Institute examples (Sheffield Hallam/Nottingham Trent) and favouring partnerships forged with Schools of Engineering as the disciplines with which we can share a common focus on design process and audience. Another point raised was that, while A&D may be expensive and take up a lot of space, it brings many benefits to an institution.

The conference included breakout sessions and discussions, focusing on a number of subjects including on employability within art & design, focusing on the importance of shared practice, craft and making. With cuts to arts education and the lack of resources for making within schools, our next generation of artists and designers will find it increasingly difficult to engage through craft and making and we cannot underestimate the impact this will have.

I presented a poster on ‘’Students as active agents, classrooms as spaces for dialogue and discussion. Towards an integrated and more unified understanding of the learning outcome framework.’ this gathered a lot of interest, from colleagues and panel members including Linda Drew, Ravensbourne and Susan Orr UAL. The research activity I proposed, has since been adopted in other areas of T&L. Having heard from GLAD director Tim Bolton, Plymouth, that he has used the model with a couple of course teams to get them to think about how to engage students in authentic practice, not just chasing learning outcomes.

A really interesting and worthwhile conference

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