Re-Fabricate: A Case Study

We are delighted to present an entrepreneurial case study from our colleagues at Hereford College of Art.

A new, entrepreneurial project at has been piloted at Hereford College of Arts (HCA) as a second iteration of The Scholarship Project’s ‘Scholarly Spaces’initiative at the college. The ‘Re-fabricate’ projectis learning, teaching and research based, and ran from January 2018 to April 2018.

HCA, established in 1851, has a long history of offering higher level awards in Art and Design. In fact, it has been doing so since 1993! With all of the college’s courses being validated by The University of Wales Trinity Saint David (UWTSD). The college achieved a TEF silver in 2017and represents a dual sector, mixed economy establishment where distinctive Higher Education (HE) provision sits alongside a specialist Further Education offer, delivered at a separate campus.

The college is small and specialist-offering twelve undergraduate courses within the Creative Arts. As well as postgraduate qualifications in Fine Artand Contemporary Craft. The total undergraduate and graduate population is only around 397.

The original scholarly spaces project considered how far it was possible to support and develop a scholarly community of practice through investigating ideas of academic space. Part of the project used action research to construct and trial different types of academic space within digital, curricular and physical dimensions.

The re-fabricate project developed these ideas further. Using ideas of ‘knowing, acting and being’as an underpinning concept in the HE curriculum. The project built on ideas of the connected curriculum, the need to support self-efficacy in our learnersand a desire to explore innovative pedagogies. Using the Open University’s ‘Innovating Pedagogy’ serieshelped us to define innovation in this context. The project also responded to ongoing debates around how vocational or creative education works within ideas of theory and practice as discrete and limitations around how theory is traditionally delivered within the creative arts curriculum.

Re-fabricate’s aims were to create an ‘open,’ creative space at the centre of HCA to deliver a mixture of practical and theory-driven opportunities and explore fundamental ideas in ways which were both co-determined and co-led by participants. An open invitation to participate in the project was offered to all members of the internal and extended creative community at Hereford College of Arts; students, staff, external creative professionals and graduates. Stakeholders were invited to put forward ideas that were of interest to them, and these were grouped into broad themes.  These included collaboration, storytelling, sustainability in design and magical realism.

Notably, in the creative arts the definition of a traditional employer is blurred. Many external creative professionals or graduates might (in another context) be considered as an employer or local entrepreneur.

The Scholarship Project and HCA supported the initiative and provided a workshop space and technical support. The programme was co-facilitated by Sarah-Jane Crowson, Scholarship Development manager, and Victoria Powell, Critical Studies lecturer. Both worked alongside small planning teams which included a student, a member of staff, an external creative and a graduate. Workshop sessions included; walking practice, co-writing a surrealist poem which was set to music and recorded ‘live’ in the workshop, designing our transdisciplinary studios, exploring and enacting ideas of psychogeography and chance and creating characters from foraged objects. Further details about each session can be seen on the website.

The feedback from the project’s participants was unanimously positive. Although the project required few resources, lessons learned included underestimation of the administrative load in facilitating and documenting the project, and limitations around the number of students and staff who could participate in the pilot due to timetabling and room constraints. These lessons will inform how the project evolves in 2018-19. The teaching methodology employed in co-creating the sessions will be used to inform the next iteration of the project. It’s hoped this next stage will extend its reach as part of broader Scholarship and Enterprise initiatives within HCA.

Crucially, this was a less-formal, experiential learning opportunity, unlike more formal ‘networking’ events. These projects have an ability to support graduates in making valuable external and internal connections through discussion as part of a wider community. Something that is certainly worth further exploration.

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