Despite the fact that the disruptive ecological and social consequences of the dominant capitalist discourse of creativity and innovation can no longer be denied (Raworth 2017, O’Conner 2023, Foundational Economy, among others), academy training for creative professions is still characterised by this discourse. Education is geared towards individual learning paths, flexibilisation, return on investment, and linear ways of thinking. Meanwhile, outside the academy, people are experimenting with alternative ways of living and working based on ecosystemic principles: by operating collectively, by giving a voice to the non-human, and by adopting ecological models. These ecosystemic ways of thinking are characterised by a perspective which rejects the dominance of the individual human as the central and decisive actor, and which elevates an alternative system whose different elements communicate, co-evolve, and co-create in a sustainable and interconnected way (Haraway 2016, Latour 2018, Tsing 2021, Braidotti 2022, Bridle 2022).
Our study A Learning Ecosystem for Creation and Innovation poses the following question: If we interpret educational programmes for art, design, and innovation as learning ecosystems, will this foster the emergence of alternative educational models and organisational forms that will challenge existing neoliberal tendencies within education? We work with students from the five programmes that make up Avans Creative Innovation (St. Joost School of Art & Design, CMD Breda, Communication, Business Innovation, and Koningstheateracademie), and from the Master Institute of Visual Cultures. Together, we explore the value and meanings of certain notions for creation and innovation within education. Our notions include collectivity, delay, precarity, a circular way of thinking, situatedness, an ecological rather than an economic view, and a more-than-human-centred practice.
One element of our research project is a Studium Generale event on 30 March 2023, at which students and staff will experience how this learning ecosystem could work. The event consists of workshops in which we learn together in inspiring ways, critically reflecting, making things, designing, cooking, performing, giving voice to non-human beings, democratically deciding, protesting, collectively caring, slacking, and more. We seek each other out, make connections, engage and connect. We thus practice ecosystemic contaminating, assembling and collectivising.
Researchers: Marianne van Bommel, Bas van der Hurk, Wander Eikelboom
Student Council: Rosalie Custers, Sam Maske, Sigrid Bannenberg, Melike Karaslan, Niels van Rijsbergen, Bram Korporaal, Diederik van Himbergen
Lector: Sebastian Olma
The research and results of the Studium Generale event will be presented at the ELIA Academy, 10-12 May 2023