Why Art, Design and Communication are Relevant for Employment and Citizenship


According to Boulding (1956), the way in which we mentally picture what something ‘is’ determines not only what we believe it is ‘for’, but also our decisions in our effort to achieve it. As a consequence of the way in higher education is now commonly defined and described, students have been led to IMAGinE HE as a service to be provided. Implicit within and reinforced by this mental picture of HE is the assumption that it demands the same (minimal) level of involvement by its customers as, that provided by dentists or auto mechanics. As a consequence of the way in which an increasing proportion of our students picture both the purpose of HE and who is responsible for it makes it less likely that they will actively engage in the learning environment. To counter the pernicious influence of this increasingly widespread conception of education, I believe that we must be able to offer our students a different ‘mental picture’ of learning – and one that gives them a reason to commit to it. I will suggest that Art, Design and Communication programmes are ideally placed to do this.