I am founding partner and academic director of Global Arts Education, a transnational education consultancy with offices in London and Shanghai that specialises in developing innovative partnerships and projects with a range of experienced UK university staff, artist groups and creative industry partners. The core of our philosophy is the importance of the student voice and developing students’ understanding of the opportunities and possibilities in arts education and the global creative industries. GAE’s experience is intrinsically linked to the influential and innovative educational approaches to the creative industries within the UK over the past 100 years.
Recent projects include curriculum development with colleges and universities in Shanghai and Beijing, academic staff recruitment and training, online portfolio reviews and guidance and online short courses and summer schools.
Link Project – Artslink, Shanghai
The remit was to develop a transnational teaching platform to support students from China intending to study in the UK or the US. We are developing blended learning approaches to embedding distance online engagement alongside traditional studio-based teaching. The project expands on and identifies the notion of ‘link’, not just from the student perspective identifying links and connections within their practice it also refers to the importance of the term ‘link’ within a team and research-led teaching framework. An essential factor to the project’s success was developing a pool of creative practitioners and academics from the East and West. This team engaged and supported students to navigate undergraduate or postgraduate study challenges through team teaching and peer learning.
The Link project developed around a model of ten weeks of study; students would develop individually led responses to an overarching brief, supported by subject specialist teaching, including fashion, illustration, fine art, three-dimensional design, architecture and communication design. The specialist engagement emphasises the importance and impact on teaching and learning approaches and hierarchies essential to action-based learning and student-led pedagogic partnerships.
The initial pilot project started in January 2021 and currently has over 20 students across various levels engaged with a team of academics from multiple institutes, including the Architectural Association, Kingston University, University of Arts London, Rhode Island School of Design and the Royal College of Art. The projects aim is to recruit a further 50 students in August 2021.
Creative Practice Courses – Art Focus Ltd, Beijing
GAE developed a range of creative practice-based courses for BA and MA level learners from various disciplines to engage with creative thinking and critical practice related to the creative industries and education. The courses would be delivered online and attract a cohort of students from a range of different university partners. Students would engage with professionals from within industry and education predominately from the UK. Students would work with an overarching theme relating to current design challenges in the creative sector during the project. Students would focus on pre-identified existing urban sites and communities, which they explore through a range of site visits, developing an active and extended community with students from other disciplines and universities. The approach would enable students to identify and research live design projects, challenges and hypothetical proposals and solutions. The outcomes are individual and group-based speculative design solutions appropriate for application to BA or MA study in the UK.
Foundation Level Curriculum Development – Kaiwen School, Beijing
Kaiwen School is an international Sino-Canadian institution specialising in primary and secondary level education. The curriculum covers the full range of subjects and programmes, with an emphasis on art and sports.
GAE worked in partnership with Kaiwen to develop a suite of courses and teaching and learning material appropriate for high school learners between 15 and 19, wishing to focus their further study outside China.
The curriculum builds on and integrates GCSE and foundation level learning traditions, which gives students access to developing skills and knowledge appropriate to the creative industries. With these skills, students can make a diagnostic decision regarding a particular specialist pathway they wish to study at undergraduate level. The programme is studio-based, integrating theory and practice. The faculty comprises arts practitioners and academics from the UK, China and North America, teaching in English and integrating art and design specific theory, vocabulary and context. A variety of approaches were undertaken, including staff development and training sessions, student-centred workshops and sessions co-delivered by GAE and Kaiwen staff.
To date, there have been two one-week-long visits comprised of regular meetings, student focus group, public and transdisciplinary facing lectures and presentations.
Summer Schools – Artslink Shanghai, SIA International Art Education, Beijing
GAE is developing and delivering a range of summer school formats ranging between 4 to 10 days with a range of partners including, Artslink Shanghai and SIA Beijing.
The summer schools combine online and in-person blended teaching and learning around creative thinking, diagnostic and art and design specialist study. Academics from the UK and the US co-design and lead programmes working in partnership with Chinese academics, engaging with various approaches preparing students for graduate or postgraduate study outside China. All courses embed and utilise different teaching approaches, including one to one and group tutorials and seminars, practice and theoretical workshops, lectures, research and site visits.
The key focus for all programmes is to support students in developing and understanding both practice and theory led approaches to research and the relationships between primary and secondary sources and activities within their practice.
Across the course of study, students develop a body of work, evidencing research, idea development, material investigation, producing a range of speculative outcomes. Students will be able to include these projects as a key part of future application portfolios.