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Apply now for Canada’s first M.Ed. in arts for social change

January 12, 2016
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Want to learn how to integrate arts-based practices and insights into your work for social change? SFU has a program for that.

The Faculty of Education is accepting applications from prospective students until March 15 for Canada’s first Master of Education in Arts for Social Change (ASC). The program, based at SFU’s Vancouver campus, will start in fall 2016 and conclude in summer 2018. Classes are scheduled on Saturdays to accommodate working professionals and students.

What is art for social change? It takes two forms:  artists embedding social commentary into their artwork, or groups of people creating art with assistance from a specialized artist or facilitator.

“Social change artists are looking to spur change in our communities by using metaphors of art to explore, engage and highlight sensibilities around things that matter to them,” says Judith Marcuse, an artist-in-residence and adjunct professor in SFU’s Faculty of Education.

“The topics of art for social change (ASC) exploration can be anything from environmental and social justice issues to community development, strategic planning and intercultural exchange.”

Recently, Marcuse brought together several hundred residents from Vancouver’s West End to develop an arts and culture plan for the community. Residents created art and used dialogue to exchange visions and priorities for the plan. 

The idea for the new graduate program evolved from a fourth-year course, taught by Marcuse and Lynn Fels, which looked at the pedagogy of arts for social change. Now, as a full-fledged program, it is filling a unique need in this expanding field in Canada and globally.  

“We’re seeing more and more of this work happening in all kinds of sectors, but there are very few opportunities to acquire this kind of knowledge,” says Marcuse.

“Specialized skills and knowledge are very important for people to have in order for them to do arts for social change work in the safest and richest way possible.”

These skills include facilitation, understanding group dynamics, building community relationships and partnerships, and learning about art practices and the specialized arts methods used in ASC.  

“This work is designed to create deeper understanding and even transformation on many levels, from the individual to group and community settings to policy and systems change,” Marcuse says.

“ASC processes help to highlight, integrate and share perspectives in arts-infused ways that include both thoughts and feelings. It brings together the head, heart and hands.”

Learn more at SFU’s next M.Ed. information session on Wed., Feb. 10 at the Vancouver campus and on Thurs., Feb. 11 at the Surrey campus.