Meet and greet: bridging the academic/cultural divide

Matthew Reisz on an ESRC-funded seminar series aiming for closer links between arts and education

At a time when both cultural institutions and the study of the humanities and social sciences face an uncertain future in the wake of government funding cuts, there is much to be gained from dialogue between academics, artists and curators.

That is the central premise of New Perspectives on Education and Culture, a seminar series funded by the Economic and Social Research Council.

The series was launched last week at an event at London’s Whitechapel Gallery that brought together sociologists, philosophers and artists, as well as gallery professionals.

For organiser Jocey Quinn, professor of education at the University of Plymouth, “culture and education are not separate entities but intersect across every area of life. We are all a part of culture and can’t step outside it, even though it enacts multiple exclusions and hierarchies.”

Professor Quinn said she hoped the series would offer “serious pleasures” and an inspiring space during these hard times while forging “an emerging cross-disciplinary field”.

Although cultural studies addressed many diverse areas of life – she cited by way of example research about encounters with pixies on Cornish coastal paths – the discipline needed “to pay much more attention to education and learning”.

Educators, in turn, could learn from cultural studies about “the importance of the symbolic and imagined”, Professor Quinn argued.

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