Situating Craft

What Craft brings (to the university) is currently in sharp focus.

At the same time that Ramona Barry describes the dwindling craft options in learning institutions, the media bombards us with how craft in all forms is cool again. While specialist craft-based degrees and diplomas around the world are disappearing, other forms of delivering craft knowledges are establishing themselves while existing institutions work with determination to re-establish themselves with major investment in staff, infrastructure and facilities.

By way of a case study: at RMIT School of Art, work is underway on a new Craft degree, closely aligned to the Art and Design disciplines. RMIT University’s mission is to prepare students for a career as skilled practitioners, flexible researchers and future innovators, able to provide leadership within the rapidly changing international field of craft, design, interdisciplinary practice, emerging technologies and contemporary culture.
Yet this world is ever changing, the impact of Covid in learning institutions has changed the nature of the way we work. What will this future look like for students enrolling in undergraduate courses, and at the other end of the spectrum, HDR students building careers through focused research?

What we do know is Craft celebrates the evolution of highly developed thinking and making. Interventions, innovations and reimagining the future requiring a deep understanding of process, skill, experience and accumulated knowledge. Universities have increasingly positioned Craft thinking to foster the role objects play in how we experience feelings, and our physiological, social, interpersonal and internalised response to the world. By situating objects as active participants,

The challenge and job ahead is how can universities sustain and preserve the connection between ideas, values, skill and making as well as provide students with models of self-determination relevant to other realms and challenges we face in the world. This discussion paper will present a series of propositions centred around a distributed model of delivery.

Partnerships and pathways with industry, cultural organisations, universities and vocational education through local, district and national levels of engagement provide some thinking into how craft builds a sustainable and flexible model to ‘bullet proof’ its future in the University sector.

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