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A learning ecosystem for creation and innovation: exercises in ecosystem contamination, assembly and collectivity.

Research Group: Cultural and Creative Industries

Precarity is the condition of being vulnerable to others. Unpredictable encounters transform us; we are not in control, even of ourselves. Unable to rely on a stable structure of community, we are thrown into shifting assemblages, which remake us as well as our others.’ – Anna Lowenhaupt Tsing

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).


Learning Ecosystem

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 arrow


Presentation summaryarrow

‘Interested in human behaviour as the basics underlying the way we design and innovate our society and economy.’

Marianne van Bommel is a researcher in the Cultural and Creative Industries research group. She works as a lecturer in research and innovation at Avans Business Innovation.

Marianne van Bommel arrow

‘How do we live together, how do we work together? How do we give shape and form to ‘being together’ in the broadest sense?’

Bas van den Hurk is an artist, tutor and researcher. He studied Fine Art at Academy St. Joost in Breda and Philosophy of Aesthetics at the University of Amsterdam. Van den Hurk teaches contemporary theory, research and practice at St. Joost, and is a regular lecturer at different academies and institutions in the Netherlands and abroad.

Bas van den Hurk arrow

‘How can we disrupt the notion of being human while staying true to being humane?’

Wander Eikelboom (1973) is a researcher and cultural critic who studied critical humanities at the University of Utrecht.

Wander Eikelboom arrow

‘Our research group investigates the role artists, designers and cultural producers in general can play in developing the aesthetics and poetics of a desirable future.’

Sebastian Olma is professor Cultural and Creative Industries. He works for the Expertise Centre Art, Design and Technology.

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Research Group: Cultural and Creative Industries

The research group Cultural and Creative Industries investigates the role of artists and designers as creative innovators and drivers of social and economic change. Affiliated researchers analyse the cultural and creative industries from a critical point of view and examine the conditions under which timely forms of aesthetic expression and social connectedness can actually take place within the precarious reality of this field. What economic models are required by artists and designers to create a meaningful practice within the aesthetic, social, and economic intentions of the cultural and creative industries? What skills sets are required for those artists and designers who don’t just want to follow movements, but actually shape novel social and economic models of the future?

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