Agents of transformation

ELIA and Berlin University of the Arts have set the course for a pan-European, interdisciplinary dialogue on the role and responsibility of higher education in art and design and the subject's contribution to the systemic change we seek. Agents of transformation is a student-run platform for systemic change through art and design. To this end, the platform connects student perspectives with the European Commission's New European Bauhaus Initiative (New European Bauhaus).

The New European Bauhaus Initiative promotes systemic approaches to pressing societal challenges by creating new networks between relevant actors and building bridges between art, culture, technology and science. The initiative seeks to connect issues of sustainability, inclusion, economics, and aesthetics.

Higher education in art and design plays an important and essential role in the transformative integration and development of different fields of study and practice. The societal challenges of climate change, social cohesion, democratic resilience, and digital transformation must be addressed in innovative educational programs. The perspectives of students must also be taken into account from the outset. Students are the actors* in this transformative integration - they will drive new approaches, critically examine them, and make the inclusive, affordable, and sustainable future tangible.

To this end, the first Agents of Transformation in Art and Design dialogue took place on April 28, 2021 and facilitated lively discussion and reflections from 35 students from seven institutions: Berlin University of the Arts, Academy of Fine Arts in Prague, Nuova Accademia di Belle Arti (Milan), School of the Arts of the University of Évora, St. Joost School of Art & Design (Breda), Willem de Kooning Academy (Rotterdam) and Zurich University of the Arts. The students discussed both their visions, expectations and critiques of the New European Bauhaus and the role that art, design and higher education should play in this initiative.

The second dialogue, on May 28, 2021, brought the students into conversation with representatives of the European Commission's Joint Research Centre (JRC), which is responsible for managing the New European Bauhaus. The students presented their visions for a sustainable, inclusive and aesthetic future and together determined the next steps.

On Tuesday, July 6, 2021, the third dialogue of agends of transformation took place, where students presented and discussed their ideas in direct conversation with the European Commissioner for Innovation, Research, Culture, Education and Youth, Mariya Gabriel.

The platform is constantly working to develop low-barrier forms of digital participation, as they want to collaborate with as many art and design students and universities and faculties as possible. This includes setting up a database for student initiatives that address the themes of the New European Bauhaus to network, exchange, and share best practices. Until the beginning of this week, student initiatives were able to register with the platform for this purpose, to give them input in terms of what is to come.

In the long run, the platform is intended to be entirely in the hands of students, which is why agents of transformation plans to build a pan-European, self-organizing body that will ensure the continuity and integrity of this platform and that will balance guidance and support with autonomy and self-determination. They are also developing a support or funding programs for artistic, creative and social entrepreneurship.

Thoughts on their three main topics: the role of art and design, circularity and distribution of power can be publicly and transparently traced via three different Miro boards, as well as feedback on them.