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Let's Build Meaningful Academic Relationships!

01 November 2017

The value of professional networking is undeniable. In the higher arts education realm, conferences and symposia are a way for colleagues to come together and share their success stories, knowledge, frustrations and solutions.

The core of networking – building relationships - transcends disciplines and professional sectors. The human aspect of sharing ideas and supporting peers is what makes networking events truly valuable. In an academic context, this means meeting not only like-minded peers but also colleagues with different ideas, confronting one’s own concepts about certain issues. 

We truly live in a global community and higher education institutions are facilitating the exchange of ideas between different cultures on opposite sides of the world through various programmes for their students and academic staff. But what about the leaders of these institutions? Sure, they get to go to conferences, but how can they develop, evolve and stay well-informed in this globalised world where knowledge and discourses are constantly shifting and changing?

The ELIA Leadership Symposium is a good example of a niche event for leaders of higher arts education institutions that takes place biannually. As Andrea Braidt, ELIA Board Member and vice-rector of the Academy of Fine Arts Vienna, says “It’s about life-long learning. If you are a rector of an art university there are not many courses you can attend, but the Leadership Symposium is definitely something that brings you forward”.

Learning and the accumulation of knowledge are not only reserved for students. Academics and leaders need to keep on learning and adapting to the new contexts and changing landscape of arts education. This is what the Leadership Symposia have addressed since their inception.

Paula Crabtree, vice chancellor of the Stockholm University of the Arts aptly points out that “The Leadership Symposia that I have experienced had very strong programmes, with very good speakers and the time to discuss afterwards. They’ve been quite demanding on how you can think.

During the Leadership Symposium in Helsinki, for example, the theme became global, focusing on the challenges in institutions brought on by globalisation, new economies and internationalisation. How can leaders remain active and creative in facing the challenges of a globalised world? How can a classical higher arts education institution reconcile its mission and ethos with these strong cultural, academic and economic forces? How does the art education of the future look like?

In 2015 the symposium took place in Cape Town and the city’s history underlined the discussion about institutions facing cultural and economic pressures. Alternative sources of knowledge have affected and transformed social, cultural, economic and educational institutional structures. Cultural diversity and its challenges, as well as the opportunities it creates, were discussed. What do the challenges that globalisation, worldwide migration processes and cultural changes in society mean for established institutional structures like art universities and colleges- now and in the future? 

Interestingly, the Leadership Symposium for the past two editions really focused on the challenges that our global society has brought on. This year the symposium, hosted by the University of the Arts in Poznan, tracks a trajectory from the past to the future, examining heritage, transition and values. Heritage is something that permeates the ideas, values and discourses at arts schools. It is closely linked to the historical, social and political landscape of a certain territory. Poznan, a vibrant cultural city has been in a permanent state of transition since the fall of the Eastern Bloc. A transition that is well-known in the history of the East, now, provides a backdrop for the discussion on a transition happening currently in the West - the rise of populism and Brexit, the refugee crisis and climate change. The state of transition that we find ourselves in now, is here to stay.

How do leaders of higher arts education institutions deal with the omnipresent influence of heritage and at the same time keep up with the shifting and merging trends of today? How can they guide their lecturers and prepare their students for the future -to equip them with the necessary skills needed?

According to ELIA President and Rector of Zurich University of the Arts (ZHdK), Thomas D. Meier, we live in times where interaction with peers is valuable not only on a professional level but also on a personal one. A networking event such as the Leadership Symposium is a “meeting spot”. He continues “After a few years in ELIA you know a lot of people but you don’t have the time to actually exchange ideas and the Leadership Symposium is a format where this actually happens”.

What does the future look like? There is no answer to that question. But what can you do to be prepared? Share experiences doubts and hopes with your peers. Find out what everyone else is doing and the actions they are taking to make sure that art education addresses the issues and trends of the present.
Join the ELIA Leadership Symposium 2017 in Poznan! We cannot wait to delve into the topics of Heritage/ Transition / Values!

Deadline to register is 20 November. Places a limited so please register as soon as possible. Register by clicking on the image below!


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The Netherlands

Phone nr. +31(0)20 330 1116
Email: info@elia-artschools.org

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