These excerpts from the STAND report for 2016 show some of the seminars and workshops presented by STAND members last year, and give some indication of our plans for STAND in the next three years. The report was written by Brenden Gray.
Scholarship of Teaching and Learning in Art and Design at FADA is a critical space for art, design and art educators, students, communities and researchers to present scholarship and innovative teaching practices related to social justice themes in the creative fields. The platform has been in existence since 2015 and continues to play a key role in supporting teaching and learning in the Faculty of Art, Design and Architecture through the development of critical discourses around curriculum transformation. Every year STAND hosts a seminar series generated by Faculty and students. Last year the two interrelated themes generated at the start of 2016 were realised in the successful ‘Ethics and Decolonization Seminar Series’.
This included the following seminars and workshops:
Ethics and Decolonisation Seminar Series Programme 2016
- Seminar: Art and Design, Research and Ethics: A short ramble and a series of provocations
Professor Munro presented a paper in three parts. In part one he presented the standard, university (and Western/global) view on ethics in research referring to the seminal work of Emmanuel. In the second part of the paper he challenged the thinking behind Emmanuel’s precepts as they apply to art and design. This was done in order to demonstrate that ‘university institutional ethics’ for research and “ethics in arts and design related research’ might be in some form of antagonistic relationship, that is to say a tension between ‘ethics studies’ and ‘ethics management’ (adapted from Nicholson). Drawing on the work of Kwame Appiah and others Munro asked “how can one situate the artist/designer/researcher in the domain of citizenship, following what is offered by these three approaches?”
- Seminar: Power, Politics and the Emotions: Impossible Governance?
- Professor Shona Hunter (Leeds University)
The seminar provided an overview and points of entry into the arguments presented in her new book, “Power, Politics and the Emotions: Impossible Governance?”. The discussion in the session focused on the salience of race in institutional transformation where Hunter was able to relate her experiences as a researcher in the UK to the current crisis in South African Higher Education. The aim of the session was to introduce academics at FADA to the politics of neoliberalism.
- Seminar: A Political Critique of Sustainability of Entrepreneurship
- David van Wyk (Bench Marks Foundation)
In this seminar van Wyk presented a Marxist critique of entrepreneurship and sustainability; discourses that are becoming increasingly dominant in terms of the way in which community engagement is framed in higher education and ‘socially-engaged’ art, architecture and design. By referring to his work as a researcher at the Benchmark Foundation, a monitoring organisation that employs evidence-based research, van Wyk challenged existing CSR (Corporate Socially Responsibility) paradigms. In his presentation he strongly problematized the current valorization of the figure of entrepreneur reflecting on the exploitative history of entrepreneurship in South Africa.
- Seminar: Critical issues in access and success in creative education
- Dr. Graham Dampier (UJ ADS), Professor Salim Vally (CERT, UJ), Soraya Motsabi (UJ FYE/SSE), Landi Raubenheimer (FADA, UJ), Brenden Gray (FADA, UJ)
Many institutional policies and interventions are in place at UJ so that educators may intervene in dealing with academic performance, but as educators we do not always understand the nature of the social problems that we are dealing with. In this session, critical systemic issues in higher education were introduced such as those related to funding, student participation and engagement levels, success, dropout, graduation rates, academic and epistemic exclusion, recruitment, enrollment, academic literacy. The panel introduced Faculty and students at FADA – as well as those from other creative educational institutions – to some of the key structural problems that they consider to be at play within the university and higher education. In the plenary it was discussed how these issues impact on teaching and learning, on the ground as it were, in the creative fields.
- Workshop: “Micropracticing decolonisation”
- Sebastian Dietrich (Zurich University of the Arts), Claire Rousell (FADA, UJ)
The aim of the session was to experiment with the notion that decolonization is a collective process of creation, production and appropriation. The session involved the artists engaging participants on a more personal level looking at how the structures of colonization are embodied and how the body is an essential medium of insight and knowledge production. Micropractising decolonization in this context means to find ways to experience the limitations and normative power of incorporated patterns, routines, ways of thinking and feeling and to become aware of how our everyday practices are actualizing overall power structures.
- Workshop: Building the anti-racist University
- Professor Shona Hunter (Leeds University), Brenden Gray (FADA, UJ), Tuliza Sindi (FADA, UJ, Nonto Tshabalala (FADA, UJ)
The aim of the session was to make visible the classification struggles involved in anti-racism practices and discourses at the university and to develop critical, anti-racism vocabularies for the university community. Participants were invited to bring in terms that they currently see as significant in their own contexts of struggle and tell their stories in a general facilitated discussion around the theme, ‘building the anti-racist university’. The session was jointly hosted by STAND (Scholarship of Teaching in Art and Design) and VIAD (Visual Identities in Art and Design Research Center). The session was attended by individuals from a range of institutions and many students from FADA.
- Seminar: Decolonising architectural education and spatial justice
- Tariq Toffa (FADA, UJ), Professor Amira Osman (FADA, UJ), Sadiq Toffa (UCT, Next Generation Scholar)
Architecture is a discipline and professional practice that provides powerful entry points into struggles on the ground, given its focus on spatial justice, rights to the city, participatory forms of engagement and policy. The seminar explored what critical pedagogy in a decolonised architecture pedagogy means. In his paper “violence and the liberal professions”, invited speaker Sadiq Toffa examined the resilience of institutional racism in the South African university and its social life in the practice of the liberal professions, including architecture, planning, and the arts. An emerging initiative, the Decolonial Alternatives Project Space at the University of Cape Town, was introduced as a new space of production in close
engagement with these concerns. The seminar elicited rich reflection, particularly from spatial practitioners, of what it meant to practice as a critical architecture educator in the context of #RhodesMustFall.
- Seminar: The possibilities of multimodality in a decolonised art/s education
- Professor David Andrew (WSOA), Rangoato Hlasane (WSOA), Brenden Gray (FADA, UJ)
The session asked what are the critical possibilities multimodality as it presently understood in terms of a decolonized art/s education? The Postgraduate Certificate in Education (PGCE) and BA Fine Arts curricula in the Wits School of Education and the Wits School of Arts was scrutinized by the speakers in light of this question. After having been involved in the teaching of this programme for a number of years, and despite its promotion of inclusivity and a social justice position, Hlasane and Andrew reflected, post- 2015 FeesMustFall protests ,whether a multimodal approach, as it is presently theorised and implemented in a South African context remains a critical-emancipatory approach. The session elicited a lively discussion and was attended by many senior students from the Wits School of the Arts. The seminar led to a conference paper/intervention being delivered at the 8th International Conference on Multimodality “Multimodal Landscapes: Designing – Changing – Shaping” (7th – 9th December 2016).
- Seminar: Literacies, decolonised teaching and auto-ethnography: constructing the protagonist
- Shashi Cullinan Cook (FADA, UJ)
Cook shared strategies and outcomes of a study conducted earlier this year with the students from the Contextual Studies 3 module. Using selected data such as student writing, and reflections on critical moments in her teaching, Shashi described her attempts to create a collaborative learning environment in which students’ literacies, knowledges and creative strengths integrate easily and effectively with the academic literacy and epistemology presented in class. At FADA, UJ, the modules concerned with the critical studies of art and design (Contextual Studies and Design Studies) are centrally concerned with culture and the way that power operates through representation. As Cook suggested, aspects of coloniality still play out in the classroom, for example, in the emphasis on proficiency in English, and the teaching of art and design modules centred in a modernist paradigm. The session was attended by many academics teaching at FADA and the discussion was grounded in the problems and concerns faced within the Faculty.
- Workshop: The role of socially-engaged academics and teachers in times of student struggle (Part 1 and Part 2)
- Brenden Gray (FADA, UJ), Professor Brenda Leibowitz (UJ Chair Teaching and Learning), Colin Chasi (UJ, School of Communication), Rubina Setlhare Meltor (UJ, Education), Sadie Seyama (UJ, Health Sciences), Professor Amira Osman, Professor Ylva Rodny Gumede (UJ, Journalism, Film and Television) Tariq Toffa (UJ, FADA), Nyasha Mboti (UJ, Communication Studies)
The discussion was hosted jointly by the SOTL @ UJ project and FADA/STAND. The idea for the seminar grew out of an interest in understanding how academics who identify themselves as “socially-engaged” in various Faculties at UJ think about their agency during times of student struggle and social crisis. Five academics were asked to speak for no more than five minutes each, responding from a personal point of view about being a socially engaged academic in the current climate of student unrest and protest. A rich discussion took place at each session around how critical pedagogy might be rethought in the current context in South African Higher education. For a rich report on the session see Razia Mayet: http://sotlforsocialjustice.blogspot.co.za/
2017 and beyond
Given the success of the STAND platform it is important at this stage to consolidate and develop a longer term vision for the next three to five years. It is for this reason that a number of thematic streams will be offered over the next three years and a set number of projects developed with a view to securing a sustainable source of funding and support.
The streams we are tentatively exploring in 2017 are:
- Student-driven Decolonization and Transformation in the Creative Fields.
- Sharing Critical Teaching Practices in Art, Design and Architecture Education (educators presenting across contexts and levels of education, including community education GED, FET, Higher Education)
- “Graduatedness” – the Politics of Work in the Art, Design, Architecture Fields.
- A Decolonial Critique of Multimodality
- In Conversation with the Disciplines – Design as a Field and the Idea of the University.
Author: Brenden Gray (2016)