New economies arise, powers shift and cultural hegemonies are being challenged. The world has become a complex system. Old configurations disband and new ones emerge. Soft power has become a buzzword, building on the arts and the creative industries and competing for the hearts and minds of people.

What the French call métissage stands for today’s new cultural paradigm, the interweavement of influences, the merging of ideas and meanings. What is local becomes global and it is in turn being transformed by this process. A new set of players with distinct intentions and values has stepped onto the stage. When we have only just begun to understand what is going on around us, forms and contents are already changing.

The new scale of globalised culture has led to far-reaching changes in organisational structures such as numerous mergers of art schools across Europe. Size seems to matter more than ever. Internationalisation has become a must, either at home, by forming strategic alliances and cooperations or by branching out.

How can higher art education institutions prepare for new and global challenges? How can its leadership remain active and creative facing developments of a postcolonial world gone fragile?

The 6th ELIA Leadership Symposium E/MERGE addresses three salient themes in today’s higher arts education: 


How is art education thought about, organized and led in different parts of the world? What are the productive potentials for encounter that educators and facilitators of art and design have in a world controlled by high-speed technologies and economies? Are we still able to learn from each other?

And further: How should we think about the “local”  today? Has it become a part of the merged centre, or has it vanished into the margin?


Current models of what globalisation means for Higher Education are outdated and need to be revised. Recent variations on the theme of education, mobility and recruitment as a form of commodity exchange with the 'Old World" as the main beneficiary are no longer relevant. The changed landscape of the 21st century must lead to a rethinking of the old relationship with a new emphasis on partnership and exchange in an intercultural world.


Impact factor is the global mantra of the scientific community and its peer-reviewed publications. The impact of the arts on today's increasingly globalised world seems generally accepted in the rhetoric of governments and administration. Actual policies however still reflect the basic assumptions, that absolute priority must be given to both economy and science, one presumably feeding the world, the other explaining and advancing it. What would be the global mantra of an artistic community that claims equal importance of the arts for the further development of societies and cultures? How could this claim be substantiated and supported? 

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