Education in the Arts Program
Democratic societies and the structures defining them have undergone fundamental social, economic, political, and technological changes in the past few years. The consequences are far-reaching and permeate all areas of society. One central aspect is usually described as the "culturalization of contemporary life." Such culturalization should be taken to mean that an increasing number of spheres in everyday life are permeated by cultural challenges, tasks, and issues so that art and culture are endowed with fundamentally new functions that go well beyond the traditional underlying notions. Today, engaging with art and culture is considered a basic technique in society and cultural skills form the foundations of agency in contemporary societies. For this reason, cultural education plays a central role both in an institutional and extrainstitutional framework as it aims at fostering empowerment, without which it would be ineffective within society. Effective cultural education must be emancipatory and empowering; it has to teach the skills required for dealing with cultural expressions and symbols on a productive, reflective and communicative level alike.
The teacher training programs offered at the Academy of Fine Arts Vienna are based on a notion of art and culture that critically reflects upon changes within society. The result is a definition of art and culture that forms a framework for cultural expression and social production to be mutually dependent. Art and culture are considered to be a locus to be inhabited, something to be negotiated, comparable to a language that constitutes and reconstitutes itself and its speakers as it is used. On a methodological level, this is manifested by the combination of cultural production, reflection and communication. Within this context, cultural production stands for the ability to articulate one's creative ideas, which contains – without being limited to – the notion of art; cultural reflection is the capability of understanding and embedding artistic, creative, and social action in discursive contexts; and communication is the principle of dialogue whereby art and culture are conveyed, a principle which is defined by interaction with a variety of target groups and formats.
The Institute for Education in Arts at the Academy of Fine Arts Vienna offers teacher training programs covering the following subjects:
- Design, Architecture, and Education - Contextual Design
- Art Education - Art and Communication
- Textile Arts - Fashions and Styles
These teacher training programs qualify graduates to teach the subjects of Art and Communication ("Bildnerische Erziehung"), Contextual Design ("Werkerziehung"), and Fashions and Styles ("Textiles Gestalten") at state-run and private educational institutions. The courses offered are designed in such a way as to enable students firstly to acquire interdisciplinary skills in the fine arts and purpose-oriented design, and related fundamental skills in technology and media, and secondly to engage in reflection based on insights from cultural studies and in the practice and theory of being an educator of art and culture. The programs are geared to provide students with extensive skills which go beyond teaching qualifications and make graduates suited for work as cultural educators, in art and cultural studies, and in design and artistic fields.
While the teacher training programs Art and Communication, Contextual Design, and Fashion and Styles are each focused on different aspects of cultural activities, they are also integrative in nature. The mutual interrelatedness in diversity aims at breaking with historical conventions determining cultural education both within schools and elsewhere. In terms of methods, this is reflected in a focus on interdisciplinarity and the constant probing of connections between cultural production, reflection and communication. Continuous work on and critique of methodologies is of central importance. At the content level, it means that the notion of culture is expanded to cover everything from art to design, fashion, architecture, urban life, and textile practice; more specifically it refers to a growing inclusion of everyday culture in the themes and forms of practice which tuition focuses on. In this context, everyday culture should be taken to mean a broad range of expressions of contemporary life, both urban and rural, connected as much with pop, style, and practices of resistance as they are with folk culture and rituals of adaptation, and equally well versed in new technologies and old craft traditions.