Across art and design schools in Australia, demand for core degrees is declining and adaptation is essential. Opportunities for learners to engage are diversifying in space and time e.g. outreach with schools and community, short courses and intensives, and open, online courses. ‘Students’ now often constitute a wider public who take part in ‘applied dabbling’ to meet personal and social goals in preference to developing a specialist art or design practice.
Art and design schools are therefore seeking to expand their permeability, social utility and impact. This is evident in curricula that are open-ended and expressed via thematic or problem-focused frameworks such as ‘Design + Change’ at Linnaeus University, Sweden, and Design Academy Eindhoven’s four ‘compass points’ around which learning is organised: the lab, atelier, forum and market. Such socially-engaged curricula are frequently characterised by ‘excursions’, with art and design school as instigator and point of departure.
In parallel, new course models are prompting socially-motivated incursions into the creative academy; recent examples include our online approaches in the arts and dementia care, and social media and photography. In these contexts, learners’ social motives are re-defining and un-disciplining curricula e.g. caring for a family member with dementia, curating an online presence, designing a service, or adapting mainstream technologies to a targeted social cause. With the aim of increasing our adaptive capacity, we discuss how these new audiences are beginning to re-shape creative arts learning, and offer nascent strategies for designing creative arts curricula for social innovation.