Everything, it seems, is referred to as 'culture' these days: we speak of youth culture and pop culture, talk of business cultures and mass cultures, refer to multiculturalism and the culture industry. But what is culture? Is it something personal or a collective thing, a national phenomenon or an inter- or transnational register? Is culture the same as art? What's the difference between high art and low culture? Can we call Beyoncé, K-pop or TikTok-videos culture in the same sense that we call Johan Sebastian Bach culture, or Marcel Duchamp? What does it mean to be “cultured”? Does it say something about your character if you enjoy reading E.L. James, Dan Brown or the works of Marcel Proust? Or if you prefer manga and anime? What do people mean by “authentic culture”? Is an expensive T-shirt with a Che Guevara print authentic? A Mona Lisa coffee mug? A Buddha mousepad? Who decides what is and what isn’t culture? And to whom does culture belong? Do Olaf’s gold cup and Thorfinn’s sword belong to Norway? Are Nok sculptures part of Nigeria’s patrimony?
Questions like these – interrogating culture, art, and the relations between them – form the basis of Arts and Culture Studies (ACS). We deal with questions about the definition of culture, how culture is practiced and transmitted and how cultural power relations are reproduced or transformed. We question the development of the arts, the correlation between so called high art and popular culture and how and why the two are interrelated. We also question the relationship between culture, policy and politics. We analyse the value of art for our society: we want to know what roles it plays and has played, how it can invite people to reflect on urgent themes such as sustainability, inclusivity and globalization. These questions are not easy to answer because culture is a complex expression of language, art, media and real life. Moreover, culture is constantly changing. One reason is the ever growing impact of digital media, which keeps bringing new possibilities and new challenges. Another is migration and globalisation, which causes local cultures to blend and change. To gain insight into the complexity of culture, researchers have to look outside the boundaries of their specialisations. And that's exactly what ACS does.
We live in a complex world. Cultural, economic, political and religious events around the world are intricately connected. This is reflected in the clothes we wear, the music we listen to and the books we read. Identity has become a popular media topic thanks to globalisation. Culture can be defined as the way people interact with and respond to their environment, to objects, to themselves and to other people. It is the way people express their identities and give meaning to their lives. Society needs people who understand the social relevance of art and culture. Scholars in cultural studies are experts at analysing works of art and identifying the underlying patterns and processes. ACS graduates are active in the scholarly and societal debates and can make important contributions to them.
In recent decades, there has been a growing awareness of the importance of positioning art and culture within a social context. After all, art and culture do not exist in isolation, but have an important social value. Cultural Studies scholars make statements about the position that art has, had and should have in society. Research starts with a formal analysis of the metre of a poem, the structure of a song or the rhythm of the montage of an avant-garde film. Embedded in cultural theory and knowledge of history, formal analyses enable you to elucidate how ideology manifests itself in art works, or how gender and ethnicity are represented. They also help you interpret artistic expressions, determine the relationship between artistic disciplines and identify intertextual clues. Cultural Studies scholars use theories and methods from many other disciplines, such as the social sciences, philosophy, literary studies, tourism studies and art history. Cultural Studies is defined by its interdisciplinary, comparative and thematic approach. As an ACS student, you will examine art and culture at a scholarly level and develop the intellectual capacity expected of an academic graduate.
Taking an interdisciplinary approach to art and culture gives students a broad overview of the cultural debate. The programme lays a solid foundation for working at institutes that aim to preserve, exhibit, create and teach art. ACS graduates can look forward to a bright future in the arts and culture sector as critics, policy officers, education officers and PR experts or as programme officers at theatres, cinemas, music centres, museums or one of the many art festivals in the Netherlands and abroad. Our graduates also work in museums, heritage and media education centres, or in the field of art journalism, art policy and education. The ACS programme is closely linked to the Dutch secondary school subjects ‘cultural and artistic studies’ (CKV) and ‘art’ (Kunst Algemeen) but offers an equally excellent continuation of numerous international high school curricula. After completing the Arts and Culture Studies Master's programme, students can qualify themselves as teachers for these subjects through the Master's programme in teacher training. For more information about this programme, visit the Radboud Graduate School of Education (http://www.ru.nl/docentenacademie/). ACS graduates can also choose to pursue an academic career and do a Research Master in preparation for academic research.
Academic education has close ties with the research conducted at the university. The further students progress in their respective programmes, the closer their involvement with this research becomes. The curriculum reflects the current state of affairs in the scholarly disciplines and helps students acquire academic knowledge and analytical skills.
The Arts and Culture Studies bachelor's programme trains students to become Cultural Studies scholars with a comprehensive understanding of a variety of artistic movements and the ability to position these within their historical and social contexts. After completing the bachelor’s programme, you will possess the necessary skills for analysing, interpreting and comparing works of art from different disciplines (music, literature, visual arts, performing arts, film, television and new media). You will be capable of identifying and understanding the historical and social backgrounds of artistic and cultural expressions, and you will be able to use the knowledge nad skills acquired to systematically reflect on and communicate to both academid and lay audiences on the social position and function of art and culture in the past and present. This Bachelor's programme prepares you for the Master’s programmes 'Arts and Culture Studies' and ‘North American Studies’.
Exit qualifications of the ACS Bachelor
At the end of the Bachelor’s programme, graduates will be able to:
- Describe and question art and culture (artistic and cultural forms, objects, and practices)
- By drawing on knowledge of distinct periods, movements, and media (visual arts, music, theatre, literature)
- By drawing on knowledge of Western arts
- Based on insights from cultural theory
- Based on recent developments in the field
- Analyse art and culture (artistic and cultural forms, objects, and practices)
- As an individual art object in relation to a period or movement, other artistic forms or objects, and other mediums
- In relation to social and cultural contexts (identity, ideology, power structures and the environment)
- Including a reflection on ascribing value, meaning and quality
- Research art and culture (artistic and cultural forms, objects, and practices) under supervision by
- Defining a problem and identifying its relevance
- Formulating and researching questions with the help of relevant sources, theories, and research techniques
- Drawing a substantiated conclusion based on the research results
- Communicating the research results and conclusions to experts and non-experts, both verbally and in writing
During your studies you will visit museums, theatres, concert halls and cinemas. The university can arrange discounted tickets for many of these visits. Please bear in mind that these additional costs can amount to roughly €150 per year.
The Arts and Culture Studies Master's Programmes
Most students start a Bachelor's programme with the aim of enrolling in a Master's programme. Bachelor's graduates will always have access to at least one Master's programme at the same university. By minoring in a different discipline during the Bachelor's phase you may be eligible for other Master's programmes as well (at the same university or a different university). This requires some planning in advance.
The ACS Bachelor's programme prepares you for two Master's programmes: Arts and Culture Studies and North American Studies. The Arts and Culture Studies Master has four tracks:
- Creative Industries
- Tourism and Culture
- Cultural Policy and the Business of Art (in Dutch)
- Art History (in Dutch)
ACS Bachelor's graduates can enroll in all four of these tracks. Each Master's programme has its own study guide with more information about the contents and the entry requirements. ACS Bachelor's graduates can also apply for the double degree programme ‘Education in Museums and Heritage’, which is organized in collaboration with the University of Glasgow (Education in Museums and Heritage (double degree programme) | Radboud University (ru.nl)).
The creative industries is a fast-changing sector where the focus always seems to be on the tension between creativity and commerce. In this specialisation, students develop a reflective, inquisitive and critical view of the creative industries and their relationship with economics and commercialism. Focusing on Fashion, Media and Music, and raising questions of sustainability and inclusivity, you will learn to look beyond the promise of authenticity, the cry for value, or the quest for quality in the creative industries, while never losing sight of its core: the cultural product or event.
Tourism and Culture
Tourism has developed into one of the prime industries in the global economy. According to the World Travel & Tourist Council, the tourism sector supported 1 in 10 jobs on the planet in 2019. Travel agencies, governments, heritage centers and publishers are increasingly looking for academically trained professionals who can creatively and critically reflect on tourism as a cultural phenomenon, who are capable of nourishing the cultural interests of tourists with enticing ideas and well-informed stories and who are able to explore new ways of traveling before and after Corona. By combining historical, literary, art-historical and other disciplinary approaches, and by integrating academic research with practical challenges, this Master’s specialisation will train you to become an academic expert in cultural tourism.
Cultural Policy and the Business of Art (in Dutch only)
The Cultural Policy and the Business of Art track focuses on the current issues surrounding funding for art and cultural purposes. For years, this debate focused on the government's position. In recent years, however, private donors (patrons) and corporate art sponsors have become important players in both academia and society. Students in this programme will examine the role of the government and the private sector in the art industry. They will learn how to critically evaluate relevant scientific theories and explanations on the path to becoming cultural experts who can take an informed stance and make an active contribution to current discussions and debates surrounding cultural funding.
Art History (in Dutch only)
The Art History track encourages students to delve deeper into the history of architecture and of the visual arts. It addresses the history of art history, as well as the different methodological approaches of relevance to the field. Students engage in research and apply the acquired cultural-historical knowledge in a variety of professional ways. Thus they develop, in the field of their self-chosen specialisation, into full-fledged academics with an overview of their discipline, able to do and evaluate research independently as well as communicate information about scholarly research to diverse audiences.