Hogeschool Rotterdam Willem de Kooning Academie

Programme Description

Programme Description

Below is a brief overview of modules being taught. Please note that the curriculum may change in response to current issues and practices within the field of art education. Rather than being fixed or canonical, our modules are tailored to meet the challenging demands of a constantly changing cultural and educational environment.


Practice and Research Seminar (Trimester 1 – 2 – 3)

The Practice and Research Seminar is a central module that runs through the first year of the programme and concerns the development of critical reading, writing and research skills, as well as the development of a growing body of research and pedagogical/artistic experimentation. By reading core theoretical texts on art, design and education/pedagogy, students establish a common vocabulary and set of references. They learn to survey a body of literature, filter what is relevant to their research and formulate comparative analyses. The seminar introduces different research methodologies in art and design education, as well as more experimental forms of participatory practices.

Composed of tutorials, group discussions and exercises, this seminar offers students a space to design their own research trajectory through asking questions, reading, studying, observing and experimenting. The seminar is a means of composing an individual research path, starting from the particpant’s current educational/artistic practice and interests. The seminar is both theoretical as well as experimental/practice-led, meaning that testing ideas and experimenting in an actual setting are an integral part of the research cycle. Additionally, throughout the year, various individual and collective exercises are designed to set up a dialogue between all participants in the course, in which experiences and knowledge about doing research can be shared, widening the scope of possible perspectives on all individual projects. Not only does this open up new ways of approaching questions, it also contributes to creating the common ground that is needed to translate ideas and knowledge between agents working in a widely dispersed professional field. The aim is to complete a preparatory research project in the first year, which results in a clear perspective on the students’ position and prepares them to write a proposal for their Graduation Project.

In the first year the programme offers three thematic seminars exploring and discussing themes and topicalities relevant to the field of art and design education. The seminars adhere to the philosophy of the master’s programme, which aims at dealing with the complete ecology of art and design education—in and outside of schools, and hovering between different artistic disciplines, pedagogical models and contexts. The goal of these seminars is to develop an understanding of research and teaching practice in relation to a broader artistic, educational, pedagogical and theoretical context.

Contemporary Issues in Art and Design Education (Trimester 1)

In the first year the seminar ‘Contemporary Issues in Art and Design Education’ deals with a topical discussion in the field of art education, particularly concerning the reciprocal influence of contemporary developments in art/design and education. Discussions about art education are constantly in flux and are very much related to developments in other sectors—artistic as well as societal. This seminar taps into the recent debates by exploring a central contemporary thematic/discussion in art education, allowing students to explore it from their own angles and professional backgrounds.

In a world of highly specific knowledges—digital, political, social, aesthetic, physical and so forth—we often find that expertise and quality has been ‘siloed’. What do we do, or should we do, with those different types of knowledges? How do we transgress those isolated disciplines in order to have a greater impact as artists and educators? Recurring notions in this seminar are: interdisciplinarity and DIY/maker education; embodied teaching versus digital cultures; and education in relation to broader ethical / philosophical concerns like the climate crisis and cultural diversity. The seminar has been conceived as a collective research project and aims towards the production of a ‘collective publication’ that is the repository of the students’ shared research with the intention to gain both a deeper understanding of the processes of education within art and design, but also of different research processes.

Seminar Critical/Committed Pedagogy (Trimester 2)

Critical pedagogy is understood in this context not as a single theory, but as a range of educational theories with one common denominator: the term ‘critical’ refers to the ability to analyse the social, cultural, pedagogical and institutional processes that are inherent to every form of education. Although coined as ‘Critical Pedagogy’, this seminar does not focus on the theory and practice of critical pedagogy as such, but rather on its general underlying ‘philosophy’ of analysing educational models and theories, and of encouraging students to develop individual ideas and working methods within the field of pedagogy. With respect to this, the course could have also been called ‘Committed Pedagogies’. Students are encouraged to investigate different educational and pedagogical theories and insights adjacent to their specific discipline and educational field, and to experimentally apply these insights. The key issue is that students position themselves, politically well aware of the multiple situations in which they operate.

The seminar proposes to explore the potential of a ‘cartographies of acting pedagogically’, especially in relation to art education, within educational systems and outside of them. The aim is to use the collective intelligence and practices of participants to come to a concrete model that visualises the force field that actors are in when wanting to operate pedagogically in the contemporary situation. As the very term ‘cartography’ suggests, we look at educational activities not only in terms of content, let alone in terms of ‘projects’. We try to work towards a model that can not only visualise things, but also empower actors because they are able to grasp the socio-economic force field that they are in. The aim, then, is not just to intervene in one way or another, but to act in such a way that one is conscious of the factors that underpin a situation, and aware of possibilities of action with a longer-term effect.

Seminar Making Things Public (Trimester 3)

This seminar deals with the public dimension of art education outside the institutional environment of the school or academy, and discusses the latest developments in this field. This includes education strategies and programmes in museums and galleries (from regular educational programmes to museums reaching out to the neighbourhood), and projects by artists/designers which are affiliated with educational or pedagogic strategies. What is ‘the public’ or ‘publicness’ and how is it approached by artists, museums and art educators? How does one make things ‘public’ within these contexts? The notion of publicness has changed over time, as has contemporary artistic/design practice’s response to it. The museum or gallery setting no longer dictates how publics are conceived, nor how artists/designers should engage with them. Within and outside of arts institutions, new experimental strategies and media are constantly being explored, and the notion of participation seems to be playing a more central role than ever before. But how do we deconstruct the notion of participation and what are the for instance the differences between participatory, collective and collaborative practices? What are the consequences of ‘making things public’?

Which skills and tools are needed to work with different students, audiences and participants? Using the student’s own graduation projects as a departure point, this seminar aims to help students conceptualise different approaches for different publics and to develop and test strategies. The seminar also addresses the pedagogical, conceptual and organisational aspects of the ‘practical project’. This means developing a detailed concept for a project with a keen awareness of the constraints or possibilities of the institutional framework (schools, art institutions or other public contexts) it is situated in, as well as the participants and/or student community.


Graduation Project Seminar / Thematic Colloquium (Trimester 4 – 5)

The main goal of the Graduation Project Seminar is to finish an elaborate Graduation Project Proposal, which functions as a point of reference for the students and staff. During this trajectory, in Trimester 4 and 5, in addition to being guided by a team of graduation supervisors, the students receive further support by means of a series of practical workshops that deal with important aspects and ‘problems’ often encountered during the research process: how to document research material, how to evaluate different iterations of an educational project, modes and methods of conducting interviews, et cetera. Additionally, the Thematic Colloquium is a seminar in which the participants are invited to compile a programme of guest lectures and discussions based on their research topics.

Graduation Project (Trimester 5 – 6)

The last two trimesters of the course are set aside for individual research and the implementation of the student’s Graduation Project. There are two graduation formats available for the students to choose from, which are described in detail in the Master Education in Arts – Graduation Guide. The first is directed towards art/design educational research and consists of developing a theoretical framework and of designing, iterating and evaluating an education project in a professional context, and writing a research report about this. The second is directed towards more experimental artistic/design pedagogical practices and consists of developing a theoretical framework/research in relation to an artistic/pedagogical practice.