Excursions and incursions: Getting inside the social motives and practices re-shaping creative arts learning

Dr. Wendy Fountain and Prof. Kit Wise (University of Tasmania)
2016 Conference

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.

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About the author


Dr. Wendy Fountain


Over a 20 year period, Wendy has worked in design practice, design teaching and educational design, now specialising in creative practice higher education and social innovation. Her doctoral design research between 2011-2014 focused on integrating housing and food systems, drawing on resilience thinking, ecological design and practice theories. Wendy has held educational design roles in Australia, Sweden, New Zealand and the UK, and been based in Tasmania since 2008. Her passive solar home south of Hobart serves as a living lab for persistent questioning of how to live within a finite system.


Prof. Kit Wise 


Kit Wise is Professor of Fine Art and Head of the Tasmanian College of the Arts, University of Tasmania; and Adjunct Professor of Fine Art at Monash University. He has engaged with art schools nationally and internationally in an advisory capacity on course design and interdisciplinarity, including LaSalle, Singapore and Massey, New Zealand. He practices as an artist, art writer and curator and has held 15 solo exhibitions in Australia and overseas, and published numerous articles, reviews, book chapters and catalogue essays including texts for Australian and international art journals such as Frieze, unMagazine and Continuum: Journal of Media and Cultural Studies.