Thursday, October 18, 2012

Discourses and difficulties

This autumn's schedule has got fairly frenetic. A couple of talks coming up, both of which are a bit introspective, in the sense that they try to analyse the dynamics and discourses that underpin the way we're framing our curriculum and our research in the School of Creative and Cultural Industries at UWS. On Tuesday I'll be in London at the MECCSA Practice Network's conference at the University of Kingston discussing the approach to practice-based research in the dreaded REF (Research Excellence Framework) that we are attempting to take. Here's the quick abstract: 

Shaping our Submission: Interdisciplinarity, practice and the spaces 'in between'

The School of Creative and Cultural Industries at UWS has evolved from being a small undergraduate-focussed media school to a more ambitious operation with an increasing volume of research output and knowledge exchange, encompassing digital art, performance, and film/broadcasting/journalism practice alongside established work in media and cultural studies. Using some examples of work from researchers in the School, I will explore some of the dilemmas and difficulties we face in positioning our submission within UoA 36, which for reasons of critical mass and impact we are concentrating on for this REF. I'd welcome suggestions for appropriate strategies to deal with the difficulty of accounting for research which falls in between REF categories and criteria. 

Then in a couple of weeks I travel to Lapland for the World Alliance for Arts Education summit, where I'll be presenting a paper with the following title:

Education for cultural practice/education for cultural economy? Intersections, interdisciplinarity and issues

The School of Creative and Cultural Industries at the University of the West of Scotland (UWS) has grown rapidly in recent years in response to a government-led agenda of widening participation in higher education. UWS is a multi-campus institution that has its roots in a vocational, polytechnic approach to higher education but its ambitions are not limited to vocational training: in common with other ‘post-1992’ institutions in the UK it offers higher degrees, Masters programmes and conducts significant academic research.

Economic studies repeatedly emphasise the scale and significance of the Scottish creative and cultural economy, but these claims are contested and contingent, and beset with definitional problems.  The notion of creative/cultural employment, which is frequently flexible, freelance or network-based does not fit neatly into the definitional categories used by statisticians. The apparent divide between professional and participatory activity in the field of culture is also  problematic and contested.  Through partnership-based pedagogies and careful project design involving professionals from outside the university, the School seeks to offer students, many of whom are first-generation entrants to higher education, immersive opportunities to undertake cultural practice in professional settings. The model could be seen as a hybrid of polytechnic university, art school, and research institute.

What is at stake when we operate within these rhetorics and discourses of creative economy? Using examples from the range of work undertaken by the School I will explore some of the conflicts and collisions  in practice-based research, which combines vocational awareness with critical and cultural theory.

Hopefully these will also see the light of day as journal articles before too long. 

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