Critical Speculations - Arts and Humanities Teaching

Erica Brady Announcement
Subject Fields
Art, Art History & Visual Studies, Digital Humanities, Film and Film History, Fine Arts, Humanities

Critical Speculations on Art School Education

GLASGOW School of Art


Dates: 15-17 Nov, 2023

Place: Virtual

Abstracts: 10 July, 2023 (Round 1) | 05 October, 2023 (Round 2)



In his 2009 book Art School (Propositions for the 21st Century) Steven Henry Madoff affirmed his belief that the art school “lives in a state of exception”. For Madoff, the art school serves as a space outside the realm of the everyday – in which professional, industrial or commercial realities are suspended – and the student-citizen within it enjoys the privilege of their “creative prerogatives over and above the norms outside its walls.” It is an argument that could be applied in varied forms to all forms of higher education.

Some might agree that this is an ideal condition for those with a creative disposition, and research shows that the knowledge, understanding and skills that an art school education imparts are applicable in many different fields, sometimes unrelated to the student’s original subject. A bleaker picture points to dispiriting longitudinal creative and cultural graduate outcome statistics, mounting student debt, and course closures across a range of university arts and humanity departments in the UK, and further afield. These urgent realities cannot be suspended, and as a consequence there continues to be debate about the value and purpose of an art school education.

We take the view that education, and art school education in particular, is part of a broader democratic project, in which one of our goal as educators is to support the development of critical thinking skills, so that students become agents of change (spatial, technological, social, cultural, environmental, political etc.) and active communicative citizens. This conference strand seeks to explore and reflect on the changing role of the art school as a critical space. We invite multiple perspectives on the role, methods and approaches in the education of the arts, design, humanities and social sciences that respond to the following questions:

What is the purpose of an Art School education and how is it cultivated? Can it continue to reside in a state of exception, and what is its future? What makes a critical space in an Art School and related institutions, and how do we support that as educators through our curriculum? What pedagogical strategies are useful to support the critical engagement of students in the arts, humanities and the social sciences? And, following graduation, where is the space for a critical thinker, and is that skill valued?



Glasgow School of Art, AMPS


Routledge Taylor & Francis



Contact Information

Erica Brady, Cindee Hogan, Vincent Peu Duvallon, Ellie Herring, Jake Jackson

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