3. The Role of Institutions: Institutional / Organizational Capacities and Benchmarks

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LEF Institutional Working Groups at ISEA2009 and ARS2009

An LEF strategy paper written in 2008 referred to the need for "an international platform for intelligence gathering on benchmarks and standards for new media art education... This will support international and regional advocacy for teaching and degree quality standards, as well as provide guidelines for the promotion and professional development of teaching staff. It will also enable inter-institutional flexibility for student exchange and mobility."

A Mini Summit on New Media Arts Policy & Practice in Singapore noted that "In most contexts arts education and research curricula and infrastructures lag behind changes that take place within media arts practices. Rapid changes in technologies used by media artists, and the transdisciplinary nature of production and research call for a more dynamic education and research policy.

Educational policies for media arts should take into account, and combine, formal and informal educational models, addressing different social and demographic groups. Research policies for media art and culture on the other hand should be based on transdisciplinarity, an ability to work with and develop collaborative projects with those trained in science, technology, social sciences and the humanities.

In line with a policy proposal from the Leonardo Education Forum during ISEA2008, it is recommended that funds should be granted for research projects that document and map out media arts research and education to better enable practitioners and policy makers to evaluate and redesign existing frameworks. A more coordinated, effective action would be to explore the feasibility of establishing a transnational fund or collaborative funding programmes between several national funding bodies, so as to enhance the flexibility of support available to research-based media practice and its mobile, transnational and transdisciplinary nature."

Following the above initiatives, workshops at ISEA2009, ARS2009 and re:live were planned. This page has been prepared with a view to the re:live LEF meeting in Melbourne, November 2009.

Summary of discussions at the ISEA2009 Working Group

The ISEA 2009 Institutions & Benchmarking focus group full summary report can be obtained from co-chairs Mike Phillips email and Ian Clothier email. Following is a short summary.

1: Categories of Institutions:
A broad (but not definitive) range of ‘institutions’ were discussed and include:
1.1 Degree awarding - Private public institutions (FE and HE).
1.2 Cultural Centres, public arts centres and organisations.
1.3 Commercial organisations and departments.

Action: A categorisation of these would need to be clearly identified, articulated and categorised.

2: Divisions within and across Institutions:
Different institutional models support the LEF agenda. Initiatives emerge through interactions:
2.1 Between departments within institutions;
2.2 Through multicampus activities (both horizontally and vertically through progression)
2.3 Between individuals/departments across institutions
2.4 Cross institutional initiatives
2.5 Around regional and cross boarder activities (collaborative learning, group collaboration within projects and across borders (Australia and China))

Action: Examples were mentioned in discussions but a range of models will need to be identified

3: External Forces
Easily identifiable external forces include:
3.1 Governmental research funding agendas initiatives which limit inter/multi/trans disciplinarity
3.2 Defining outputs and ultimately location
3.3 Why centres are in particular departments
3.4 Buildings: future planning and past models. Work previously carried out by the Media Centres
3.5 Mapping Project by Arts Council England under (Bronac Ferren) should be referenced
3.6 Is there an assumption that Art and Design are the driving forces in institutional change?

Actions: Future student body profiled, existing disciplinary and transdisciplinary models identified, the role of LEF in regard to students discussed, creating a global understanding of mechanisms for funding.

4: Models
A number of models were discussed which explored vertical and horizontal initiatives from School to Postgraduate level and beyond to the professional practitioner. These included:
4.1. Belgium: e-culture: masters projects that bring together a range of disciplines.
4.2 German Fundamental Studies courses. Taught by specialist lecturers driving interdisciplinarity.
4.3 Helsinki: Educational Media centre. Developing a phenomenon based on curriculum rather than disciplinarity. Developing a training programme to explore new fields (not just art and design) which incorporates e-pedagogy design and visual knowledge building.
4.4 Madrid: Collaborative learning, don’t see themselves as content providers but the context through which collaboration is facilitated.

Actions: A range of models need to be identified at all levels of education/research/commerce which might support transdisciplinarity.

5: Futures
Institutions need to understand their own futures and the impact of initiatives, technologies and practices which will drive change. Key issues were identified which relate to the future role of institutions, and the full report needs to be viewed to assess these.


Inderdisciplinarity turning into a discipline!?

Although the discussions veered into territories embraced by the other ISEA2009 LEF workshops it was clear that the nature of our institutions and the changes they are struggling to deal with underpins the future of the LEF agenda. That these interdependencies must be understood: on a global level; within the context of the ecology of economic, social and cultural policy; attempt to rigorously embrace a broad range of disciplines; engage with the inputs and outputs and vertical progression of international education systems. The issues, models, questions and actions highlighted above are tentative steps to frame future discussions. LEF ISEA2009 working group facilitator and participant contacts are contained in the full report pdf.

Matters raised by the ARS2009 working group

Real change needed
Think outside of existing traditional higher education institutions, include informal education processes and organizations.

What is needed is the opening up of new curricula and departments, the exploration of niches, new educational models for knowledge sharing, training and professionalisation.

Key issues:
- Rising number of private institutions with an emphasis on applied courses (high fees, employment outcomes).
- Pressure for distance learning, but more about the numbers than transformation: less facilities and more students.
- How open are higher education institutions towards change?
- Will higher education arts institutions loose their relevance within the next decade?
- What can be learned from NGO models that to some extent have taken on informal media arts education?

Lobby & network the networks
Create an active lobby that ensures LEF issues and actions are taken into account on an international level and to combine efforts with other players.

Key issues:
- Examine, learn from and link up with other networks like CUMULUS.
- Engage with players whose interest (partly) overlap, like UNESCO/INSEA (International Network of Society of Education of Arts), and link up to initiatives like Mini Summits of Media Arts Policy & Practice or the World Conference on Arts Education in Budapest in 2011.
- Active role in cross-sector collaboration.

Mapping & transparency
Map and observe innovative models of best practice and develop methodologies that lead to a shared repository of knowledge. In-depth research into the structure of institutions is crucially needed. Open up the sources, map the best practices. Investigate organizational structures, highlight issues and trends that media arts education systems are facing, develop comparative analysis (organizational structure / budgets / curricula / outcomes / teaching methods).
A shared map.

Key issues:
- In times of transition, all kinds of education should be stimulated, including non-institutional models.
- Evaluation systems of arts education = need to be standardized (e.g. by national bodies).
- Look into traditional conflicts between visual arts and media arts education to find out what can be learned from the ‘other’, also from an economic point of view.
- Issues of accessibility should be addressed in such a mapping.

Importance of mobility
Institutional agreements between universities and institutions should be fostered so that more mobility is possible.

Key issues:
- Expand mobility projects like Erasmus within the European Union. (Erasmus enables students, professors and business staff to study and work abroad each year, and supports co-operation between higher education institutions across Europe).
- Extend AiR models to wider residency models that (emerging) researchers can take part in, and that link the arts to (media) arts education.
- Discuss the problem of comparability of institutions and curricula differences. A world wide pool of information regarding media arts education curricula would be needed.
- Research and lobby for transnational funding schemes for mobility.