Evidence suggests that active and collaborative learning environments are more impactful on learning (Zepke and Leach, 2010). In the Arts subject area this can include practice-based work on live studio projects that allow students, academics and clients to work together, empowering students to develop talent and respond to live briefs. The proposed paper evaluates the implementation of one such project which offered students a significant new opportunity to engage in an innovative classroom space involving partnership (Mercer-Mapstone and Abbott, 2020), creativity (McWilliam, 2009) and real-world application (Cameron, 2011). In this case study a second year BA (Hons) Interior Design module took on a live commissioning brief with an external client, the Social Higher Education Depot (S.H.E.D). The brief had a civic focus with the client seeking bespoke designs for a public installation featuring a variety of original artistic work of young artists from the city of Derby, including audio productions, to express their thoughts on the future of the city through their own artistic voices. The designs of four students were selected for the final collective design. This project provided real world learning and talent development opportunities, through a co-creative process between partners, and those in and outside of education, providing an opportunity to create communities of place (Manzini, 2019). The proposed paper discusses how creative placemaking (Courage and McKeown, 2020) was used as an approach for enhancing real world learning, to enable young urban residents to articulate their agenda for social change and education reform. The proposed paper evaluates the design and delivery of this innovative classroom learning experience through student feedback, and will explore the affect it could have on future employability. The discussion and lessons learnt from this project will be of value to HE leaders interested in taking new curricular approaches in active, applied learning collaborative projects with their students both within and beyond Arts-based disciplines.
Dr. Daithí McMahon, Senior Lecturer in Media, University of Derby, UK is a critically acclaimed and multi-award-winning radio playwright, director, audio producer and sound artist. His pedagogic research if focused on the development of HE curriculums and enhancing student learning through live, collaborative, inter-disciplinary practice-based art and design projects that engage with the wider business, arts and civic communities to provide collective benefits. He previously led the project ‘When the Boys Come Home’ a collaborative ambisonic drama project involving students from six UG and PG programmes across the School of Arts at the University of Derby. He worked in partnership with Rhiannon Jones on the Derby Voice (2021) project which is the focus of this proposal. His other research interests include the convergence of radio with digital media, the political economy of media industries and the audio media consumption habits of young contemporary audiences. He continues his art practice in audio drama and is currently experimenting with ambisonic audio, leading an oral history project involving the Irish diaspora, and exploring the role of the arts in civic engagement and personal wellbeing.
Dr. Rhiannon Jones, Associate Professor (Civic) University of Derby, is a Nottingham-based artist and researcher in the School of Arts, University of Derby where she co-leads the Civic Lab Research Group. She is chair of Cumulus: International Contemporary Working Art Group, steering group member for DerbyCAN and Stakeholder for Bolton Arts CIC, and a Trustee for New Art Exchange, Nottingham. In 2012 Jones co-founded InDialogue, a collaborative research project that interrogates how artists and researchers use dialogue in their practice. InDialogue has curated 4 International Conferences, hosted 3 International residencies and supported over 600 artists since 2012 – 2020 from over 15 countries. She is Founder and Creative Director of S.H.E.D, a mobile flat-pack, popup arts venue and public space dedicated to artistic research through public engagement. Jones regularly comes to the School of Arts with live briefs and her original S.H.E.D and the redesigned S.H.E.D for the Derby Voice project, both came from consultation and collaboration with the BA Interior Design students at the University of Derby.
Barend Slabbert, Senior Lecturer in Interior Design and Programme Leader for the BA (Hons) Interior Design programme at University of Derby. Originally from South Africa, he taught in Cape Town and London before joining the University of Derby in 2017. He specialises in exhibition and stage-set design, with a specific focus towards the re-adaptation of significant historical interiors to contemporary exhibition spaces. He worked for a number of years in the Stage-set and exhibition design industry in South Africa, along with freelance interior design work in the hospitality and retail sector. He also formed part of the design team for the 2015 World Expo in Milan. He is interested in the preservation of historical spatial identity, establishing new spatial identities, spatial dialogues, and phenomenology.