Virtually Feminist: The feminist turn for socially engaged art in higher education

Activity: Talk / Presentation / Podcast / WebinarInvited talk


This paper examined the impact of feminist art practice and theory on pedagogical practices from a personal and institutional perspective. The relatively new programme, MA Art and Social Practice, at the University of the Highlands and Islands provided a case study to consider the expanding feminist field in the 21st-century art school.

The MA Art and Social Practice is delivered entirely virtually, offering access to a wide range of students who have not previously been able to study at MA level for a variety of reasons. Virtual learning provides opportunities for education among diverse learning communities, such as those that are geographically remote or those who cannot leave home to study, such as those with childcare responsibilities or chronic illness. The programme is in its second year of delivery and is run and taught by an all-female team of lecturers. Almost all students are female, currently 25 out of 28. Feminist principles underpin the programme, promoting non-hierarchical, open and inclusive learning and teaching environments through teamwork and student-centred learning, generating a sense of shared ownership and responsibility for teaching and learning. Diversity and plurality of practice characterise the curriculum content. Networking and collaboration are fundamental to our practices. Feminists work for change, to make a difference to our lives.

Core feminist values contribute to improving our teaching and learning environments, foster innovative teaching practices, inclusive curriculums and progressive course development. Analyses of social and political structures encourage our students and colleagues to better understand institutional structures that impact on learning, teaching and professional careers. Students thus become better equipped to understand their position as professional practitioners, and empowered to shape a sustainable career, whether in education or art and design.
Period6 Apr 2019
Event titleAssociation for Art History Annual Conference: Critical Pedagogies in the Neoliberal University: Expanding the feminist field in the 21st-century art school
Event typeConference
LocationBrighton, United KingdomShow on map
Degree of RecognitionInternational