Learning about Intercultural Relations in Arts and Cultural Management Higher Education

As the third of four public seminars for our network, Brokering Intercultural Exchange, we considered the push for internationalisation in higher education and

  1. how it is impacting or being experienced in the teaching and learning of arts and cultural management
  2. how that experience reflects and shapes our intercultural communication in the classroom, the profession and the research of arts and cultural management

We reflected on the roles and responsibilities of the institution of higher education and ourselves as arts and cultural management educators and researchers in the politics of cultural representation and thus cultural and ethnic (in)equality both within the discipline and practice of arts and cultural management but also as social actors.


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Below is a written summary of some of the insights gained from our participation. An audio summary of many of the discussions by Lorraine Lim  is available here. A full biography of all participants and presenters is available here. Individual power point presentations and audio will be made available soon.

Raphaela Henze set us off by providing some background to the seminar in the context of the wider network programme and her own research on the experiences of the ‘international’ from the perspective of arts and cultural managers.

Karim Murji assisted us in considering structure and agency questions regarding the ‘epistemic violence’ that can take place by way of higher educational structures, programmes and pedagogical cultures. He pointed out the way in which academic disciplines / disciplines of study and research have often biased standpoints themselves, based in changing and situated histories of time and place carried through by individual and schools of researchers and educators. Research activity and educational practices are the “everyday ways” in which a discipline carries on and its dominant ideology is cemented. Furthermore, Karim indicated that the role of higher education is not necessarily to “level people up”, but can be about “reproducing social inequalities”. Through this discussion, he sought to encourage us to consider our own agency as educators and researchers in challenging that form of violence.

Ksenia Filiminova, and later Olga Karpova, Ekaterina Lapina-Kratasyuk, and Margarita Shulgina gave us insights into the development of the discipline of arts and cultural management in Russia at RUDN (People Friendship University of Russia) and The Cultural Management programme at the Moscow School of Social and Economic Sciences respectively. Through their two different presentations, they highlighted the educational context operating in Russia—including a picture of ethnic diversity, the emergence of the discipline, the relationship of this emergence to Anglophone articulations and practices, and the benefits, challenges and sometimes problems with this association. There is a growing desire to publish work on the discipline from a Russian perspective. You can hear Ksenia’s presentation here and colleagues from MSSES here.

Linda Donahue, Jane Zheng, Desmond Hui and Elisabeth Danuser presented programmes and educational approaches taking place at the School of Theatre and Dance, Texas Tech, the BA in Cultural Management Education at the Chinese University of Hong Kong, and Zurich University of the Arts (ZDHK) respectively.  ZDHK’s online programme, Vocabularies of Resilient Art Practice, signposts the digital ways in which intercultural exchanges can now take place in this field of education, about which so little is understood. Jane reflected on the process of translating artistic approaches from different cultural contexts and how the learning experience was received and experienced by students as well as her. This form of reflection is an important aspect of teaching and learning, which we concluded seminars like this one help facilitate. In addition to presenting on his role as a UNESCO expert, Desmond discussed a newly developed programme at Hang Seng Management College and how it has emerged in a way that may lead to potential influences in cultural policymaking in Hong Kong. Linda’s presentation regarding the structure of study abroad programmes promoting cultural experiences abroad raised important questions regarding the (financial) access of these experiences to students developing careers as arts and cultural managers and thus cultural mediators. Issues around balancing how you can encourage students to go abroad through short-term and home-country-led teaching (even if while abroad) with providing students an ‘authentic’ experience of another culture, through longer-term and more immersive experiences were also raised. The presentation also made visible how arts and cultural management programmes and modules / classes can be instrumentalised in a higher educational institutions’ strategy to ‘internationalise’ and become world class.

Leonie Hodkevitch led us through a process to analyze the formula of successful EU collaborative cultural project partnership. We explored how different perceptions and experiences can present challenges and opportunities for exchange made possible by these projects.

Lorraine Lim facilitated our thinking around how the mobility of cultural policies regarding the creative and cultural industries across different parts of the globe can impact on the education and training of cultural workers and the career trajectories of academic researchers and educators in this field. Different types of structural inequalities emerge / result from this process that can lead to (erroneous) perceptions of both students and researchers being at a deficit of knowledge and experience. Her full presentation is available here.

Melissa Nisbett and Antonio Cuyler provided insights into the experiences of students on arts and cultural management programmes. The ‘cultural collision’ as Melissa referred to it (hear more from her here) that occurs in the classroom became visible in these presentations. They impact not only students—both local and international—but educators as well who are often feeling unprepared for the types of support all students need. It seemed confirmed amongst the group that international students are not always recognised for what Antonio highlighted as the exceptional ability to move abroad and study in a foreign language. (Here his full presentation here). Misunderstandings around different pedagogical cultures can sometimes lead to impressions of students being at a learning deficit. Recognition and balance of responsibilities was raised by Antonio—questions around who is responsible for ensuring (all) students and educators are prepared and open for the exchanges and learning that will take place. How might this be facilitated? Suzanne Alleyne gave an insightful presentation as to the lived experience of the classroom from her  perspective as both a student and a working professional in arts and cultural management.

Continuing into the next day, Hilary Carty shared her experience as an educator-practitioner. She highlighted how ‘cultural collision’ is something that one must constantly negotiate and whether or not teaching issues about cultural rights and diversity in the classroom should be about encouraging students to “just understand or to act”.

Victoria Durrer closed the presentations arguing for the need to study arts and cultural management education as a distinct area of research. She highlighted the way in which internationalised educational practices within and by higher education are a form of implicit cultural policymaking (see Jeremy Ahearne 2009). Referencing the work of Paolo Freire who has argued that education is not “neutral”, she implicated both the roles of higher education institutions and educators / researchers in fostering inclusions, exclusions and (in)equalities.

In the afternoon we had a great deal of discussion on further areas of interest and research. Some, but not all are included here.

Key Research Areas arising from our discussion

  • Comparative research on the experience of international students studying arts and cultural management
  • Building an understanding of how arts and cultural management has become ‘colonised’ or how it is influenced by colonial processes
  • The relationship of educational programmes to cultural policymaking processes.

Key Curriculum Insights and Actions arising from our discussion

  • A need / desire to ‘decolonise’ arts and cultural management education
  • Online learning in arts and cultural management
  • A need to reflect on and exchange teaching and learning experiences among educators
  • An acknowledgement of the need to rebalance the curriculum so that diversity is embedded across it, rather than as a module in week 10, for example.
  • Recognition that educators don’t hold all the answers but can serve as important brokers and links between people and ideas
  • Educators as well as students need more diverse cultural experiences in order to challenge dominant assumptions and ideologies


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