Global Next Gen ART: Faculty help it happen. 2022 Collogue. Podcast #9



Since the founding of Action Research journal in 2003, we have had the immodest aim to help recover and transform social science.  Our intent has been to assist the Academy, as well as the public and private sector, in discovering additions and alternatives to heretofore “ivory tower,” materialist-positivist research and practice. We continue to extend our conversation.

In 2022 we convened a three part collogue on the topic of the action researching orientation as a vital alternative social science paradigm at a time of eco-social crisis. The first collogue foregrounded the developmental/reflexive stance of ART that may be new for some action researchers; the second took the form of a symposium at Academy of Management with ARTists “showing and telling” about far reaching ART experiments in the worlds of politics to personnel management.  The third and final for 2022 was dedicated supporting the next generation within formal educational institutions.

Details of the first two collogues are gathered at the AR+ 2022 collogue page. What’s below captures the highlights of the last collogue on supporting the next generation. Related podcasts for all colleagues are also hosted at the AR+ Yes/And Podcast page and on Soundcloud. The podcast for the final collogue weaves all conversations together. Find that here…


Why Global Next Gen ART?

Let’s start with the issue of purpose.  What’s the reason faculty are willing to take on the big work of supporting next generation ART inside universities designed for more conventional outcomes? 

Short answer: ART opens up creativity and innovation. At a time when our global and local experience of eco-social polycrisis is not getting any easier, action researchers are helping mobilize the resources of knowledge creation institutions, i.e., formal and informal education spaces.  

Cast of faculty change leaders

Our final collogue started with story telling by three faculty change leaders. Each uses different labels for ART; each talks about creating a new path for ART in their own university.  Check out the video snippets.

Prof. Bem Le Hunte is from University Technology Sydney.

Bem leads in the award-winning degree program “creative intelligence.” Its combination of reflexive, interdisciplinary and transformative learning is done by students in partnership with their now 2,000 industry partners. 

Prof. Ben Teehankee is from De La Salle University, Philippines.

Ben and colleagues are tasting the fruits of its successful grassroots initiative with ART begun 10 years ago. DLSU students are among the country’s elite in what continues to be an impoverished country increasingly prey to climate catastrophe.  Their ART started within a core faculty group from the division of business and management. As a Catholic university the faculty aligned with the moral permission at the core of the vision for the institution.  Their new emphasis on relational and reflexive skills, alongside an analytic orientation to organizational intervention, regularly produces innovative interventions in community partner businesses. The hardest work was inside the university itself. Slowly but surely other faculty are impressed that ART is both rigorous and relevant. It’s spreading to other faculties.

Prof. Julie Borup Jensen is from Aalborg University, Denmark.

Julie’s university was founded on practice principles which offers space for an action-orientation to knowledge production. Action research is most alive within the human and social sciences. Using the “remote” location of some of its campus as an opportunity for engaging with community partners, Aalborg education programs (such as an MA for working education professionals that Julie designs) allows for helping an educational revolution inside Denmark. Julie mentioned the inspiration of Burning Man culture in her work to integrate the arts in education; their motto: ‘there is no observer!’

Take aways in the participant plenary (see video snippets below)

How did the conversation land? Foremost, participants felt inspired by the success and reach of the programs described.

What seemed especially inspirational is that the success happened despite the stranglehold of conventional academic processes. This inspiration showed up for some participants as a sense of wistfulness (how education could be!) and despair at having to work within norms rapidly becoming unfit for purposes of supporting a next generation.  One participant, who leads a research think-tank in Germany, spoke of how overly narrow grant-givers define deliverables in the world of international development.


Success calls for perseverance. Support comes also from outside the Ivory Tower walls.  Community support comes when ARTists overcome the pernicious town/gown divide. University administrators in particular like that kind of support!

Turning to colleagues within the Ivory Tower, it helps to highlight and explain how students flourish, both as persons and as scholars, while successful community projects are seeded. Learning proliferates in this win-win model. 

How to persist.   

ART faculty require institutional and collegial support (don’t attempt this alone!) When starting without top support, faculty must be their own support (again, don’t attempt this alone). Faculty do well to convene a small cohort of fellow supportive ARTist faculty and some advanced PhD students with whom to make the pedagogy experiments; ART is harder than conventional social science AND it’s more inspiring!  Mixing qualitative and quantitative reports is important to highlight the compelling examples!

How does ART get seeded and eventually flourish inside a university?

The short answer, one that reverberates back into our lengthy lineage of participatory research: ARTists make the path by walking it. Creating ART programs for a next generation is itself an ART project.



Plenary highlights from Collogue on Next Gen Support for ART