The hidden value of research in art and design

The Public Value of the Humanities is a book described by one reviewer as providing “a top-notch tutorial on the current states of humanities research in the UK”. Twenty four leading academics were commissioned by the Arts & Humanities Research Council to describe the value of their disciplines to the wider society. I was commissioned to write the chapter on art and design.

According to another review, “The book provides an excellent overview of contemporary humanities research, its breadth giving an obvious insight into the vast array of subjects and styles present within the humanities. It is also very clearly a book of its time, attempting to redress the balance away from the emphasis on STEM subjects in government discourses with case studies from contemporary humanities research.”

Published two years ago, the book remains a highly relevant introduction to some key issues in these disciplines. In my own chapter, I examine our new research culture and make the following case:

The emergence of a research culture in art and design has initiated a transformation in the role of the creative practitioner, providing new opportunities to explore and redefine the scope and interests of art and design, and its relationship with other disciplines. There is evidence of this both within dedicated art schools and those which are located within research-focused universities. Crossing disciplines has opened up new possibilities and a new relevance for creative practice.

Many of the examples I use in my first lecture are described in more detail in the chapter. The publisher – Bloomsbury Academic – has made the text of the whole book available to read online, and my own chapter is linked here: All this useless beauty: the hidden value of research in art and design.


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