Workshop Series

What’s art got to do with it? Exploring arts-based teaching, knowledge-making and impact in the social sciences

Should anthropologists and development sociologists care about the arts? There is an increasing interest among NGOs, grassroots organizations, and policy makers in arts-based and creative formats as possible instrument for achieving citizen participation, empowerment, awareness raising, and the decolonization of knowledge and representation. A range of urgent social and academic questions, such as climate change or more-than-human interrelations, also have led artists, scientists and grassroots organizations to team-up to craft newly imaginative modes of research and knowledge translation. In this workshop series, we explore the possibilities these developments might offer to social scientists and how we might integrate them into our teaching practices.

The workshop series are open to and intended for interested social science scholars and students (in anthropology and development, but also beyond these disciplines), artists, and professionals or stakeholders. The workshops are given by invited experts with long-standing experience with arts in their research and teaching practice. They will mix hands-on exercises with critical reflections on the merits and limitations of arts-based formats. Together, the workshops address five interrelated dimensions of arts in social science:

  • arts-based formats in teaching and student-learning
  • arts-based formats for knowledge-making and representation
  • arts-based research methods
  • arts-based formats for generating social impact and change
  • challenges of working with arts-based formats in the (neoliberal) university

The workshop series is part of the larger innovation project ‘Integrating arts-science-society connections in a curriculum-broad educational track’ at the Anthropology and Development Studies department of Radboud University, and builds on the previously organized Advancing and Innovation Methodology Seminar Series.

Workshops will be held on-site at the Radboud University (Nijmegen). There also is a possibility to join online. Participation in workshops is free-of-charge, but it does require registration in advance.

More specific information about each seminar can be found below, as well as a link through which you can register to join one of the workshops. If you like to receive our newsletter with information on new workshops and related events, please sign up here.


WORKSHOPS 2022/2023

1. How does Practice Based Research produce new knowledge? Socially Engaged Art as Participatory Action Research 
John Johnston (ArtEZ-IMAE)

15.30-17.15 CET

In the past thirty years many artists have chosen to leave their studios and work in the public domain, involving a variety of communities and others in the conceptual development and delivery of artistic work. Known as the ‘social turn’ (Bishop 2005), artworks became art projects, process took precedence over outcome or product and socially engaged research became a central focus of these works. For many of these artists the nature of the relationship between them and the public became their art. Nicholas Bourriaud (1998) named this ‘Relational Aesthetics.’ Relational aesthetics has led to an expanding field of intellectual and social research that forms praxis between social theory, artistic practice and research - positing what is known as Socially Engaged Art under the umbrella of Participatory Action Research. In this presentation I will explore the journey from the studio to the social domain and highlight the complex layers of engagement that the artist researcher must navigate to produce their work. I will draw on a number of case studies from the international Master Artist program at ArtEZ that is designed to train artists in this field and highlight how new knowledge emerges from the multiple to encounters the artist has with the material of context, people and time.

John Johnston is associate professor socially engaged art education, and works as head of the Master Artists Educators (as Agents of Ex-Change) and principal investigator of ArtEZ UNESCO Project at ArtEZ. John Johnston graduated with a PhD from the University of Sunderland, (where he now is a visiting professor) on ‘the intrinsic connectivity between artistic thinking and conflict transformation’. He has developed an ‘issues-based arts education’ as a means to counteracts social and political inertia and contribute to the caring and critical society we need to change the world. He has worked in a variety of conflict and post-conflict contexts, such as Northern Ireland, Bosnia and Herzegovina, South Africa, Rwanda, Israel-Palestine and Lebanon. He is recognized for developing a number of arts-based methodologies that provide an artistic platform for marginalized and minority communities to gain voice and agency.

2. Learning and teaching through creative methods


Noortje van Amsterdam (Utrecht University)

10.30-12.15 CET

What could creative methods bring to our teaching practices? In what ways might arts-based exercises or assignments enhance students' learning? In this workshop I will draw from teaching practices in which I have used creative methods to open space for embodied and affective learning and knowing alongside the more conventional cognitive approaches. In the first part of the workshop, I will illustrate how collage, creative writing, performance, walking, and other creative formats can be used to explore course content with students and how this may inspire new ways of learning. In the second part of the workshop, participants will be invited to experience a creative format in a hands-on exercise. We will close with a collective reflection on the reasons for engaging in this type of teaching, the conditions that allow for this teaching to be meaningful, and the ways in which creative outputs can be graded.


Noortje van Amsterdam is Assistant Professor at the Organisation Science department of Utrecht University. Her work focuses on the gendered affects, materialities, and embodied power structures of health, size, the menopause, motherhood, and disability in organizations. She has worked extensively with creative methodologies (e.g. Arts-Based Research, CAP ethnographies, visual methods, auto-ethnograpic writing) in her research, and is an important voice in academic debates on ‘writing differently’, such as through her use of poetry ( or text collage in her articles.

More dates and workshops to be announced soon via our newsletter.