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Graduates in the Making

People siting around large table with materials and papers
  • Written byRosa Morcom
  • Published date01 December 2020
People siting around large table with materials and papers
Graduates in the Making, MAKE @ Story Garden

At a time when community spirit and inclusion feel so vital, participation may be more important than ever. In February 2020, students gained insight into how communities can work together to plan and deliver meaningful projects.

Participatory methods respect local knowledge and experience and give everyone in a community the opportunity to have an active voice in a project. At the heart is the philosophy of sharing knowledge and experiences to learn from one another. MAKE @ Story Garden is a public space for creative collaboration with, and by, the communities in Somers Town and St Pancras. It embraces the skills and talents of people who live and work in the local area, together with students and staff, to address local issues and social challenges.

"So many of our students are socially-engaged and they really want to use their art and design skills to make a difference," explains Heather Barnett, MA Art and Science Pathway Leader, "While there are a number of live projects delivered within course structures, there aren’t many opportunities for specific training in this area and for students to collaborate across disciplines. Graduates in the Making addressed that, by creating a safe space between educational and professional realms where student could develop and test their skills."

In early 2020, second and final year students from across disciplines took part in the six-week programme. Through a series of workshops, talks and a takeover, they discovered how to design, structure and run their own participatory projects. It showcased real-world practice with contributions from the Somers Town Community Association, Camden Council and All Change Arts.

Graduates in the Making helped me explore and understand what community participation could look like, as well as being able to learn from and be inspired by how different creative disciplines approach public engagement. It gave me much more confidence and excited me for what my future personal practice may look like!

— Lydia Hyde, M ARCH: Architecture student

Students built their confidence in designing, structuring and running participatory projects. They learned how to develop projects in collaboration with strategic partners and about key contexts such as activism and citizenship. On the final day they co-designed and facilitated their own programme of activities for a small group of local guests.

“This course has deepened my understanding of the impact of community arts projects and strategies for evaluation. I've been able to consider ethics in much more depth and to develop an understanding of my own ethical framework. I've gained an understanding of the wider contemporary practice in this sector.” 
Catherine Herbert, MA Art and Science student

“The project reminded me that participatory practice is not a fixed model and it requires active communication at every stage. It also taught me how diverse, resilient and determined the students are to use their creative knowledge skills and practice to change the world for the better.”
Simeon Featherstone MAKE Technical Co-ordinator

This project, supported by UAL’s 2020 Teaching and Learning Fund, was delivered by Adam Thorpe, Professor in Socially Responsive Design, Heather Barnett, MA Art and Science Pathway Leader, Georgia Jacob, Creative Producer, Local Engagement and Simeon Featherstone, MAKE Technical Co-ordinator.

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