Structures within structures: Examining alternative cultures of learning in the institution

Sadie Edginton, Alex Parry, Cicilia Östholm

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This article explores the possibilities of using critical pedagogy inside and outside the art school to counter the effects of neoliberalism. Developed from an initial transcript of a conversation between three graduates of the Royal College of Art (United Kingdom) about our education-as-art projects, it takes the form of a constructed dialogue that mirrors our approach to working collectively. We discuss particular issues that arose for us whilst studying, as we experienced how the neo-liberal art school conceptualized a form of education and arts practice that promoted individualized paths and set competitive dynamics between students. We are interested in how art practices characterized as being social, collaborative and democratic can resist the neo-liberal art school. Advocating for process-based methods that facilitate learning between groups of students, we aim to open up space for embodied and situated knowledges. Bringing critical pedagogical approaches to the inside of the university creates a porosity with the alternatives we experienced outside. Through re-practicing historically radical methods and creating supportive structures, we challenge the dominant ways of communicating and managing the student-body. We argue that students and artists can organize their own cultures of learning in opposition to those that the university-as-business wants to promote, whilst creating supportive models that take students’ needs into account.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)265-274
Number of pages10
JournalArt & the Public Sphere
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 1 Nov 2021


  • alternative education
  • group work
  • institutional critique
  • neoliberalism
  • pedagogy
  • social practice

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Visual Arts and Performing Arts
  • Cultural Studies


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