Live Project: Supporting Change

1. How do you plan to address issues around diversity through this course development?

In order to address the issues around diversity I have looked at Part Three: Diversity Strategy 2010–2015 of the UAL Equality & Diversity Framework 2010–2015 that clearly states the UAL position and vision towards the diversity question:

  • To recognise that diversity is everyone’s business.
  • To understand and the strengthen the ways in which the diversity of our students, staff and alumni from the colleges enhances the University’s distinctive reputation for academia and enterprise in the arts and on a regional, national and international level.
  • To ensure that principles of good equality and diversity practice inform and shape our teaching, learning, research and employment approaches for the benefit of our students staff and the creative industries.

These closely align to the Equality Act 2010 that states:

The act covers nine protected characteristics, which cannot be used as a reason to treat people unfairly. Every person has one or more of the protected characteristics, so the act protects everyone against unfair treatment. The protected characteristics are:

  • age
  • disability
  • gender reassignment
  • marriage and civil partnership
  • pregnancy and maternity
  • race
  • religion or belief
  • sex
  • sexual orientation

In raising my awareness of diversity and understanding the wider cultural, social and political contexts of the issue, it will greatly inform my teaching practice, in turn feeding into the course I teach on.

2. In what ways are the different diversity strands considered e.g. age, caring responsibilities, disability, gender, ethnicity, religion and belief, sexual orientation, transgender, socio-economic class?

The UAL Equality & Diversity Framework 2010–2015 considers all of the strands to be of equal importance, and should cater for all equally. The responsibility of honouring the strategy belongs collectively to the University, from each college and department to the individual. The strategies which the Framework proposes to ensure the successful delivery is through 5 actions:

  1. Establishing an evidence base for informed decision-making on equality and diversity issues
  2. Integrating equality and diversity considerations into functions, policies and processes
  3. Providing training, guidance and information
  4. Ensuring accessibility and inclusivity
  5. Promoting leadership and effective communications

I feel that points 3 and 5 are very important, providing suitable training and clear/concise communication of UAL policy is integral for the actions to be delivered.

3. How diverse are your reading lists?

In terms of the Graphics Communication & Design pathway I teach on, the ‘reading list’ we provide to the students takes the form of the references compiled for each project. A one-week project brief will list relevant books, artists, designers, practitioners, exhibitions, museums, films, websites or resources for that specific project brief. With that in mind the resources are diverse often referring to different nationalities, ages, gender and ethnicities. In reflection it would also be beneficial to encourage students to add to these references from their own cultural identity.

4. How wide is the range of references used?

As mentioned in the previous answer references include books, artists, designers, practitioners, exhibitions, museums, films, websites etc.

5. How is the course delivered – group work/ peer assessment?

The Foundation course at CSM is fast paced, running over a 32-week period, which is split into three parts:

  • Part One. Weeks 1 to 9. Units 1–4 —Diagnostic pathway rotation
  • Part Two. Weeks 11 to 18. Units 5&6  — Pathway specialisation
  • Part Three. Weeks 19 to 32. Units 7 — Final major project

Group work is encouraged in Part 1 to build friendships etc, but Parts 2 & 3 projects are focused on the individual, however, group critiques are an integral aspect throughout the course, so peer assessment is embedded and encouraged in all Unit projects.

6. What are the project briefs like? (what is the subject matter/ the cultural references/ the clarity of language)

The Foundation course introduces students to the plethora of Art & Design from Fine Art, Fashion & Textiles, 3 Dimensional Design & Architecture to Graphic Communication & Design (GCD). Project briefs are therefore introduce core principles or approaches indigenous to each discipline.

The schema of work for Part Two comprises of seven one-week projects that are designed to introduce fundamental principles, processes and approaches within the wide gamut of GCD. Each project introduces key skills, concepts, ideas and vocabulary to a particular area of GCD: information design, typography, branding, packaging, book design, image making, photography, printing processes, layout, concept development and critical thinking.

Equipping students with the specialist language GCD is embedded into the projects, thus creating a glossary of terms that students hopefully use and understand. Cultural references tend to be brought in by the students, for example a recent student focused on her cultural heritage for her Unit 7 project.

7. When and how are student identities explored within the course?

Students explore their identities throughout the Foundation course, the course prompts this exploration especially throughout Part 1, in which the students experience all of the pathways and make a decision on which two pathways they want to explore further, in Part 2 student specialise in a pathway. Once specialised project brief encourage students to explore and experiment thus expanding their visual language and encouraging new ways of seeing and thinking. The Foundation course really pushes students to question and explore and therefore identities are explored and often discovered.

8. What level of choice do students have on what subjects to work on?

Part 2 as mentioned is a series of seven one-week projects, the briefs are designed to be open to enable students to respond as they see fit, encouraging students to make their own choices and be able to rationalise and justify why they have made those choices.

Part 3 of the Foundation course is Unit 7: Art and Design Project Proposal and Realisation, it is the final major project and is a seven-week self-directed project, in which the students identify a theme they wish to explore and write their own detailed project proposal, time schedule, bibliography and methods of evaluation.

9. Visual research – Is there a range of images used in the work? (not just from the exclusive western canon?)

Visual references relate directly to project briefs; these are sourced from a wide range of practitioners, which are not exclusively from the western canon.

One Part 2 one-week project is called ‘How To Build An Egg Catcher’; in groups students design & build a structure to catch an egg dropped from 8ft using restricted materials (3 newspaper and 1 roll of string). Using their documentation of the build process, students work individually to produce a set of instructions to recreate it. This introduces the area of information design, exploring problem solving through reduction, using signs and symbols to communicate and instruct, and typography / format. For this project the references include the work of Gerd Arntz, Isotype, Olt Aicher amongst others.

On reflection I could expand the references by researching the use of pictograms / information design in a wider cultural arena. One interesting intervention would be to invite students to suggest relevant references from their own cultural perspective.

10. Which staff teach on the course? – do they have a range of experiences both nationally and internationally?

We have a diverse teaching cohort on the GCD pathway; nationalities include German, Portuguese, Danish, Scottish, Italian, Lebanese and English.

11. What are the range of collaborations with external organisations/or individuals?

Throughout Part 2 the students visit relevant museums or exhibition, this year we arranged for a talk at the British Library by a specialist in Zines. We also arranged a ‘pop up’ stall in The Street, KX for the sale of a product multiple the students produced. 

12. What are the arrangements for reasonable adjustments and anticipating the needs of disabled and dyslexic students?

I would assume that if a student does have specific needs these would and can be catered for. I am assuming that the curriculum leader would inform me of these.

13. What are the opportunities for students to be assessed in different formats- relating to dyslexia? Viva voce?

I assume that these requirement can be catered for, I would speak to my curriculum leader to confirm what policy / approach the Foundation offers.

14. What are the course level strategies to address degree classification differentials?

The Foundation awards an FE qualification. Again I would speak with the curriculum leader as to how classification differentials are handled.

15. What are the strategies for addressing issues raised through complaints and appeals.

This is something that I am not familiar with and again would speak with the curriculum leader to clarify the Foundation courses position / approach.

1 comment

  1. Paul, you presented a strong understanding of equality and diversity frameworks and are clearly familiar with the University’s Equality Act outlining in detail the various components. Within Q.2, you outlined the strategies which the Framework proposes to ensure the successful delivery, highlighting points 3 and 5. Regarding training, it is good to see that the University has a robust plan for recruitment and selection by stating ‘Every member of a selection panel will be required to attend the University‘s ‗Managing Equality and Fairness in Recruitment and Selection‘ training programme’.

    It’s really encouraging to see that you use provide resources and references that address the wide remit of nationality, age, gender. Good idea to explore and encourage students to add to these reference from their own cultural identity. This connects somewhat to the whole notion of cultural capital, and I too, was also interested in the assertion that, (deriving from Bordieau, and excerpted from Neil & Reid), ‘Expressions of judgements of taste are, rather, vocabularies to be learned… then applied to whichever manifestation of culture seems most relevant – and events of high culture was strengthened by a sharing of learned vocabularies in respect of expressions of taste.’ (Neil and Reid, 2009).

    Your strategies for visual research (really like the idea of the project “how to build an egg catcher”) is very interesting and the project references pointing to Gerd and Aicher amongst others is good.

    Overall, your response to the answers was concise and considered and where possible showed intent to address inclusion, diversity and potential development in the curriculum.

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