In this episode of Interrogating Spaces Dr Amita Nijhawan introduces the LCC student Changemakers, a group of student consultants who work with course leaders and course teams to bring more social justice into the curriculum. They are a community of students and alumni who inform pedagogic development through a decolonial lens.
Here, their perspectives and experiences are brought together in a polyvocal assemblage. Amongst many topics, they talk about race, equality, the complexities and sensitivities of social justice work and most importantly what it is to be a student in the current cultural climate.
Student Changemakers: Veronica Amon, Terena Danner and Emilio Gotterbarm
Questions and Facilitation: Dr Amita Nijhawan
Sound Engineering and Production: Emmanuel Aouad and Hannah Kemp-Welch
Assistance: Disha Deshpande
Music: Way-to-West by Ketsa
Changemakers Podcast Transcript
Podcast length: 48:18
people, students, university, feel, terms, lcc, changemakers, institution, maker, social justice, engaging, tutors, work, design, programme, change, understand, important, student body, identity
Emilio Gotterbarm, Terena Danner, Veronica Amon, Dr Amita Nijhawan, About the podcast
About the podcast 00:04
Welcome to interrogating spaces. A podcast that examines ideas around inclusivity and attainment in higher education. We speak with staff, students and practitioners to explore questions around democratic and decolonize teaching practices.In this episode of interrogating spaces, Dr Amita Nijhawan introduces the LCC student changemakers, a group of student consultants who work with course leaders and course teams to bring more social justice into the curriculum.
Dr Amita Nijhawan 00:43
I'm Amita Nijhawan , I work at the University of the Arts London, I work in the academic enhancement team as academic project lead, and also at LCC as attainment and progression at Project Manager. My work quite often involves thinking about how we can bring more of a decolonial lens, and also a social justice lens into pedagogy and teaching and learning. So that hopefully students not only benefit in terms of diversity, representation, voice and agency, while they're at UL, but also hopefully, they can take some of this learning or this lens into the industries in which they work when they leave you out. In this room with three wonderful changemakers, who are going to talk about their work, I'm gonna get the changemakers to introduce themselves, and then they will then carry on with the conversation.
Veronica Amon 01:44
I'm Veronica Amon. I'm a change maker for BDI. I'm also alumni from BA design for art direction and a visiting practitioner on that course as well.
Terena Danner 01:58
Hi, I'm Terena. I am a second year Public Relations Student, also a changemaker for the media and comms programme.
Emilio Gotterbarm 02:09
Hello, my name is Emilio. I am a student a third year student animation. And I am changing for the minor department which is the moving image and digital arts.
Veronica Amon 02:27
So changemaking, I kind of see it as a consulting consultation role. So effectively, we interact with course leaders, and if we can students to embed decolonial and social justice into the curriculum, whether that be through workshops, we do talks, and then we try to meet as regularly as possible to kind of build an initiative to move through that in our schools. So we all work in different schools within LCC and then do that.
Emilio Gotterbarm 02:59
Also the encouragement from the university towards the students to really embrace the fact that we are a university with a lot of students who have a different background. And that we can encourage the exchange of knowledge from other countries and cultures as well.
Terena Danner 03:20
And then also an assessment as well, we're sort of a part of the Re- approval process. So that involves looking at the handbooks and seeing what can be changed in order to address some of the areas of advocacy for decolonization. And then we also have the opportunity to work with some climate advocates as well. And sort of embed both climate advocacy and decolonization as just like an overall positive change throughout the university. So my experience at LCC has been really positive so far. I think coming from like a previous institution, I found it to be really creative, really liberating. I feel as though I'm much more able to connect with other students through various forums, group chats, social media. I feel like there's definitely a positive outlook and individuality which I think is great, especially if you're if you're getting into like so the arts world or various other associated industries,
Emilio Gotterbarm 04:30
be expected LCC has been positive. But also to be quite frank, it has been very limited in terms of COVID that kind of robbed a lot of students of the student experience the actual student experience at LCC, which is now coming back thankfully. And it's been hard in terms of networking in my department, for example, in Animation has been very hard to network with a lot of people, since some of them are in other countries and some of them have been kind of been. They they have the motivation of participating in class has been decreasing throughout the months when COVID started and then throughout the next year, but it is coming back and actually students are getting more more motivated now.
Veronica Amon 05:29
My experience at LCC I'd say it's been a bit mixed, I'm also so I came to LCC came into my course via second year. So I actually spent my first year of design in a different institution. And coming from that, I feel like at first it was definitely rose tinted glasses. My experience at the first institution wasn't that positive, I didn't feel very representative. I didn't feel like I fit in. So I'm coming to a university like LCC that in terms of a student body is quite diverse, like you walk in and you see people from different walks of life, especially compared to other ual campuses, it was definitely a space where I felt like I could at least Breathe, breathe, I felt like I could engage with the student body. And to some degree, the teachers that I'd say like art and design school always has its limitations in terms of festival money resources, your opportunities to network to build relationships, especially in London, I feel like it can be quite fast paced. And when you're networking, it may be sometimes can feel like it doesn't have as much substance. But I felt like in terms of my course, I did enjoy it. But I can say this because I was quite lucky in terms of my course having maximum 50 people, which was an issue for me on my first course, the course I was at the different institution because we had around 120 students. And within that actually, like I was one of four black people in a bar in London that is quite mixed. So it wasn't that I didn't feel like I deserve to be there. But it is always nice to see representation and see people like yourself before yourself. It's nothing that would stop me but it just kind of wasn't adding up. So it was quite nice to be based in Elephant and Castle and seeing the student body reflect that area to some degree. Well, I came from a design course. So within that most of my tutors, lecturers were white men, which is quite reflective of design industry and design studios, which is something I was aware of beforehand. But the institution again, I won't name it, but the institution I was at before represent itself as quite Forward, forward thinking and yeah, just really open. And that just wasn't reflected in that course. I think they'd started to do that. But they weren't doing that in their student body. As for LCC. It's a tricky one because I'm also a visiting practitioner. So I feel like in terms of visiting practitioners and visiting lecturers, that is when the diversity comes in, and you start to see people like yourself, or not like yourself, you see the expansiveness of the design industry, but within the permanent lecturers, and course leaders not so much. But I have seen a move towards inviting, or including more diverse projects within our teaching. It's nice because it is starting to go beyond the reading list, which I think can be quite boring. And there's so much more in terms of our work of decolonial and social justice than just reading, I think in terms of accessibility and the way people learn it needs to go beyond that.
Terena Danner 09:06
So I'm sort of coming into LCC as a previous student studying English at a separate institution. And sorry, in my experience, I mean, I would say that one of the things that kind of really was highlighted was the fact that LCC was dramatically more diverse, and it feels as though the groups are far more willing to collaborate and come together irrespective of race, gender, orientation, sexuality, executive, etc. So, I think I'm coming on this from just like a different perspective and different expectation as well. Therefore, I sort of, I believe that I've had like a really positive experience and it's been really eye opening to see A world where you know, it almost like a utopia as what what it would be like to work in, in an environment where people are treated a little bit more equally understood and listened to, and you know, they have a voice. So yeah, I feel like, of course, there's still lots to be done. But considering how things have been in the past 10 to 50 years, where we're at now is I feel like where we can be. And we'll gradually make more steps towards a more equal student body. But I feel like it's a great thing that we have changemakers to be able to be not only the voice of students, but past students, so alumni, and also to be inquisitive, people who take taken what they sort of experience in their own lives and bring it into sort of the student experience as well. So you're getting both sides, not just what it's like in an academic setting, because eventually we will do leave, and then we need to have that support in, in career development. So I think it's a bit of both. And I think that it's a really positive thing that I can see happening at at LCC in comparison to maybe other institutions.
Emilio Gotterbarm 11:17
I know some people who dropped out in my course, actually one person and they said, Why do I need to study something that I'm already doing, which is drawing, because it's also very expensive sorts of increments. And maybe that's one thing, there are some people in my class that just don't feel confident, I know the university is doing their best to encourage the students to really show their work. But I don't know if they're doing enough, because a lot of students in my course, lack in confidence, even in their third year,
Terena Danner 11:57
I do I do agree with the idea of self esteem and confidence because a lot of students are coming from they're just coming from school and like sort of their school might not have been a sick form, it might not have been like a big sick Form College, which is sort of like a university, it could have been like, literally part of the school. And then he had this big step up. And it, it could feel quite overwhelming if you're coming from maybe smaller towns and to a bigger city, and you're trying to find yourself and he thought, Okay, this is what would suit me, and then you, you experience life a bit and you're like, actually, I'm a completely different person from that, or I'm seeing different people on my course you have the confidence to execute themselves and articulate themselves that that they feel that they may not have. So I do I definitely do agree with Emilio there. But then I also feel like it's also a matter of integration into the course as well speaking to tutors, booking tutorials actually feeling as though you have a relationship with your tutors, and lecturers and fellow students as well. And just having that like, sort of proactive enthusiasm as well, which a lot of students who are just coming out of school are still navigating. So I feel it's going to it's going to be the case, you know, in a university setting that some students will have to rethink and find their way. But I would say that, you know, eventually, it sort of, you're able to sort of figure out what is so you're more inclined to through that process, if that makes sense.
Veronica Amon 13:33
I agree. I guess one thing I often thought about for myself, and in terms of my course, maybe split split more specifically was the lack of studio culture and how that's navigated in maybe Design and Media schools. Because I think, within maybe other institutions within ual mostly like fine art photography and maybe drawing. There's this essence of studio culture and like this incubation of ideas and people having to talk to each other. And there are crypts where people do chime in and like within my course we had that but because I don't know if it's the way we view art versus design it. I feel like sometimes there's a distance. And maybe people feel like there's more rules within design. So you don't have to then bring up questions like we do as change makers is where is decolonial II and this Where does it say it does social justice and it's not saying that that has to be within your work, but people may be quote unquote, view these as, for lack of better word artsy questions, when it's just general questions about what we're putting across within our work. And I think art carries this thing where when you're making artwork, you feel like it's very much you whereas design work, I think people assume is very distant. I'm yourself a more commercial and therefore, your names on it, but you have maybe less responsibility. And I think LCC is definitely an institution that tries to remind students that you do have responsibility within design. But I think, as big as a university, is it it is. And even the way our university is set up, it is kind of like an incubator of like ideas germinating, things happening is almost too overwhelming. So people would rather be not rather be independent, but you just kind of move around independently, because there's just so many people you could talk to. And even reflecting on what Terena said about interacting with tutors and not being scared to do that. It does really make a difference. I think, within my experience, it was talking to tutors and realising this is just me, but maybe like 10 years ahead, but like, you know, they can still tap into how I was feeling. But it's when that distance is there. But sometimes you I don't know about you guys, but I put that expectation on myself that my tutor will say something, they'll be like, Oh my god, I'm so dumb. I don't know this forgetting that we may even have like, upwards of 15 years, apart from each other. It's not always that's not always the case. But there's different walks of life, different accessibility in terms of class, I think that's a really important one. Those people who are who just have more access to more programmes, maybe they had a laptop longer than you did, maybe they had Internet access, which meant that they could go to more workshops online and do these things. So sometimes you step into first year, and you're like, Why do I not know these things. And I think, if you had more studio culture, people would say that and then be able to share those resources, rather than feeling like, Oh, I just don't know it, this must mean that I can then be less confident. And then impostor syndrome comes about and then you're just like, um, I don't want to do this, or I can't interact with this anymore.
Terena Danner 16:58
I think one thing that's been really great about being a change maker is being able to have that direct contact with our sort of group leader, Lucy, who always does like a round up at the end of the week to, you know, ask if there's anyone who wants to talk further about a specific topic, or you know, she wants a one if we want to engage in a one on one. And I think that's what's sort of kept it going. And in situations like first year, when you're just sort of finding yourself having maybe a tutor, that sort of pair that you're paired with, to sort of ask you about how you feel, within the university experience, that might make a huge difference. Because there's one thing getting on with the work and attending the lectures and the classes. And there's another thing, which is like pastoral care, and like how you actually feel on the course, which can hugely affect sort of your, your level of work and the way that you're able to apply yourself, so I feel like, yeah, if there was that ability to not, so you're not feeling like, okay, if I'm not happy, I have to go to counselling, like I'm, like, in that category of people that need help. But to just feel like, Oh, this is just a part of being a student, I can talk about, oh, I didn't really have such a great week, it's all been a bit much. Oh, why don't you join this society? Or why don't you go here? Or why don't you meet up with this person who's feeling similar? You know, it might be useful.
Veronica Amon 18:35
I think that's a really good point. I think, sometimes we actually, I think a good example of this is maybe pre approvals and attainment. And it's like, not looking at the people who have passed this threshold as what the university deems is good, but maybe asking the questions of why is that the threshold that you believe it is? And why are the people falling, quote, unquote, underneath it. So I think attainment was a really interesting thing to explore within changemaking, because the university is doing his part by trying to make sure that all the students get to one or fast. But within that, there's the gaps of students who maybe are getting a two two, and that's really successful for them. But then they're left out of this data and deemed as the University not hitting us marks whereas within that there may be a tonne of people who have gone home, or for themselves have just achieved this goal when they're like this is enough for me, or I feel like getting this I now believe i can get higher because maybe you started off it. For them. It could have been I started off at a U and now I got a D and that's amazing, you know, and also like, meeting a lot of people during my course who may have got, quote unquote, low grades but within that got really high grades for certain things. And vice versa. But these people not knowing that and not interacting and talking about, oh, I can share this resource with you because you're good at this, and I can share this resource with you, because you're good at this. But where all we see is these, these marks, so we don't go into that with each other. So if there was a way to kind of remove that, and allow us to see kind of like this skeleton, I don't know and lack of better words, I'm not too sure, and actually have more meaningful conversations about like, what data is what data we're looking at. I think that would improve it.
Terena Danner 20:37
Also, just this expectation that if you're not in the two, one first bracket, that you won't be employable, or that you won't find work is just, you know, it's pretty ludicrous, because there's place for everyone. And I feel like if a lot of people knew that, when they were starting off, maybe they'd have this stamina and the continued sort of like momentum and encouragement to complete the course, because they know that once they finished, you know, it will take it might take a little bit longer, but eventually they will find their space. So I feel like just sort of breaking the glass ceiling a bit. And just saying, actually, in the real well, people do find their way, regardless of where you're coming from, you've just got to stick at it.
Emilio Gotterbarm 21:16
It's, it's pretty irrelevant nowadays. Within our area, for example, because they, for example, visual fixtures, they do need them here in England, a lot of them. And they also we had like a meeting with someone who already works, and who worked on various film projects, like Transformers, Jurassic Park, and all these things. And he told us, the most important thing is your show reel, and your, your CV, they just want to know if you have experience, and if you can work on a team, you don't even have to go to university, usually. But it's, it's cool. It's good that you went to university and you have like a base of knowledge. But for them, they really just want your abilities that you want your talent. And it, it would be different, it wouldn't be wouldn't be an art school, because art school is just based on talents, and on your abilities as an artist. And I think that is more important than just a great, a great as a great. I mean, that's one thing, and it doesn't really matter you can be. And it's most of them, most of the grades are based on your PDFs that you send off and your assessments. And sometimes you can be you could have done an amazing project. But your PDF wasn't as convincing or has pretty as I've got a review once. And then then you get like an A minus or B, and still good grades. I mean, they're good grades, or worse, you can get a C which is okay that that's already like very disappointing. But even then if you get a B, for example, you're like, Well, what was so bad, but what was what was the bad thing about it or I did a bad job. That's like an ego thing. But many people say like, Oh, I did this amazing project. And now I get a B plus for my PDF, but just based on misinformation, information that was lacking or something like that. Yeah. And
Veronica Amon 23:25
I think one interesting thing, and I think us as changemakers looking into decolonial II, racial justice, social justice, climate justice, I think is important to kind of, to talk about the fact that it is a larger issue with grades. I think as much as we're having this discussion. And even myself, I've talked about like how there are people out there who will find two twos or even a third valuable. I think it's an issue with the academic landscape at large and like really talking about what it means culturally because I remember going to a design school away day and people bringing up really important facts and maybe something we can to some degree relate to which is a tutu may be good for me, but my mum is not going to accept that. Like, you know, culturally, there is an expectation amongst maybe amongst people who have immigrated come here as refugees or just moved over and have done that in order for their children or their family or whoever is part of their household to acquire certain grade to get to a certain place within this system. And I have firsthand and maybe other people in this room have seen and have even experienced, I know people who have got first and been told that that is what you have to get to get a job and still not got that job. And that is when we start thinking about decolonial E and racial justice and what that means so it's a really true A key conversation to have and it's hard not, I never want to be naive, naive about it. But it is just so large. There's so many factors to it and you want to encourage your peers and say, like you did, you did wicked like that was amazing, that is your best, you will keep moving upward from there. But what do you say to them when they're like, but now I can't be employable on paper. And then, but you do have those experiences of people who have just had, who maybe haven't even gone to university have done amazing projects are now in the industry, some people are even getting master's degrees, but not having a BA but because they've shown that they just keep making the work. There's just so many different angles and pathways towards success. And maybe we're just not talking about it enough. And that's why it's so tricky.
Terena Danner 25:50
I think it's also a case of sort of looking at the structure of things, because there has to be some kind of way that that people's all these university bodies, separate the wheat from the chaff, so to speak, in terms of their acceptance rates, and how many how many seats, they can how many pieces they can award to students. So I do understand it coming from that point. But at the same time, not all students have the ability to jump through certain hoops at a given time, it could even be the difference between a year a year's worth of maybe just like for example, if you had a year, another year to do your average your to do your A levels, maybe you'd have but then have the grades to go into the University of your choice. So I think it's just understanding that everybody's journey is different, and everybody's strengths are different. And just giving yourself that time. And I feel like if that is something that was embedded or implanted into our psyche, then we've realised that we're not running a race in terms of everybody else, but we're running our own race. And in that sense, you're more likely to succeed, and to have the mental health that will sort of like be sustainable throughout not only your sort of education, but also your further further career or whatever you end up doing further afield. I think that immediate is Case in point that, you know, you have some students who achieve really highly, really early on, and then they just lacked the motivation, it's because they've been told that when they get to a certain point, they won't have to work anymore, everything will open for them. And they don't really, there's a certain aspect of character building that comes with not being able to have everything perfect from day one. And it makes you have to figure out who you are. And I feel like we all go through different points at which that happens. But some, some points do feel very crucial to have that in place. So I feel like it would be great if there was a way to talk to students and say, just work on your strengths. Try your best with your weaknesses, but you just got to like stay focused and keep going and find something you really enjoy. But it's all about the process. And it's just a massive learning curve.
Veronica Amon 27:58
In terms of my journey as a change maker, I felt like I was quite lucky in the sense that the courses I was engaging with were willing to engage from the beginning, they've had history, they had a history with last year's change maker in which they were engaging with them. So it was very easy for me to then walk into the classroom. The work I've been doing has been workshop and facilitating based, which is really fun, because it means again, more engagement, meeting the students kind of getting a sense of their needs, although I think they're sometimes scared to approach Changemaker work, because times like decolonial, anti social justice, climate advocacy can be really scary. And nobody wants to say the wrong things. So I'd say it's been really positive. But I think the thing that has been hard is maybe post COVID, in which a lot of people engaging with these topics via the internet via the phone being quite maybe not in physical community and with the internet, kind of portraying this idea that there's only one right way to talk about this, they're often really scared to engage. And they're really scared to say the wrong things. And I think the issues I'm finding at the moment is how to facilitate creating a safer space because I understand it can't be safe and some things just like may be triggering and we try to refrain from things being said that could trigger other students, but how do we get to a point where it is a learning environment where things are imperfect? But yeah, engaging in workshops has been really, really good. And meeting other changemakers in regards to learning more about the media, school and other schools within LCC. It's been really great.
Emilio Gotterbarm 29:55
It's been very positive to work as a changemaker challenges is of course So organising things because of some of our students, and we have to prioritise our work. You only work more than to change my work, even though it's very engaging, and very demanding, I would say. And I mean, it's also Yeah, I agree with that point of feeling insecure and what to say? Because yeah, you don't want to get cancelled, or you don't want to have someone report back to the university saying, like, oh, I believe they said something very offensive, and it triggered me. And then you go through the whole process of the university, blocking you basically and saying, Come back in a few days for this meeting with us, where you will then confirm that you did not say these things, in fact, or did maybe, and give us an apology. So it's, it's that it's, it's so scary sometimes to talk about these subjects. And to really, basically, when you any subject, like social justice related is walking on thin ice, in my opinion, you really have to be careful what you say. And in fact, I would more encourage that you just don't don't mind about it really just be like, open to expect someone not to fully understand you, and maybe misunderstand or misinterpret what you're saying, and maybe saying, oh, what you just said, triggered me, you have to be open to that and the other person has to be open, that maybe something will be said that will trigger them, but they will have to, but then they will have to remain calm, and actually trying to find out what they actually meant or like pursue more, more transparent transparency. In other words, I would say that it's important. And well, in terms of like, when we worked as change makers, when we had discussions like that, we never had confrontational moments, for example, that was good. We, I know that all of us have different opinions about our job and about what it means what social justice means what changemakers means. But it's not to an extent that someone completely misunderstood what it is. So that is that has been very positive. And also, yeah, as we said, Lucy's a very good boss. And she really provides us with a lot of information and a lot of help. She's always there and available for us to talk to. Sometimes also unrelated things, but mostly Changemaker things. And I think one of the most challenging parts was to really review the curriculum. Because that's when you say, Okay, I'm talking to the, to the big guys. Now, basically, I am the one who's responsible to write down the whole thing, and tell them what they should change or what they can change. And it feels a bit weird to like saying things as a student to your own tutors, saying like, You should do this or that. And then it's like, what they think they are. Basically, that kind of mentality was was kind of playing while I was writing my reports. So it was challenging, but also like, phrasing it in a formal way, is also important, I think. And that was also challenging, because you need to come across very polite, and also very nice and say, and sometimes, well, the good thing is there was nothing negative in my curriculum. But if there would have been it would be, well, a bit hard to describe that and to say, well, I don't like what you're doing here. So that was one thing.
I think the training programme in the beginning was really useful for for, for me, and I'm sure for many of the other changemakers because at that point, we actually felt like we were more open to speak about some issues that otherwise we would have seen as taboo. And, you know, we all come from diverse backgrounds, maybe for some of us, it was only in our own households that we were able to speak on some of these topics. So to get to the point where we, you know, we're having zoom calls with some, you know, deans and heads of the university is like quite a daunting experience. So I think that everything that led up to that from the training programme was was really useful. And just as a whole, it just taught me to be a better listener, to just, you know, take that time to really understand where somebody else is coming from. And I feel like that's been really important in how I communicate myself in various other areas of my life and interviews and etc. So, I feel like overall, it's just been a really great learning experience.
Veronica Amon 34:50
So in terms of dealing with topics such as race, sexuality, class gender decolonial II Knee thing within the scope of, I guess, social justice. And one thing I enter all of the workshops I do within change men, because of the change maker role is always saying decolonial. And social justice is complex and imperfect. And I think Emilio touched on it really well, like, we're all changemakers. But there are points that we probably won't agree on. There's experiences and spaces, and we've come from maybe different areas of the world that mean that my opinion on one thing just isn't a pin isn't an opinion there, or doesn't translate well. So I think it's just understanding that it's in perfect. There is no like, final conclusion to any of these things. Things change weekly, monthly daily, like, you know, like I even as a change maker, sometimes the term decline reality, sometimes I fight with that term alone, you know, so I think it's just putting it across to us, the university, the students as well and saying, like, even Amelia mentioned times like cancelling, right, it's just like, anything we say on this podcast now can be perceived as maybe politically incorrect or not appropriate, within five years, 10 years, 50 years, who knows, but I think is knowing that intention is important. And I think social media has made it really hard to trust intention as well. Because things have been co opted, and you're not really sure. But I think it's just understanding that things will change. And that the endpoint we we want is to be in a space, a learning space, where we're trying to understand people's journeys through life and how to make it as joyful, and respectful as possible. But understanding that won't always be what it is. I feel like I had this conversation with Lucy. So Lucy pandesal, when we started in terms of the rigidity of the system, so as changed me because I was quite small and quite low. So it means that we are being asked to do quite an intense job without the time to really do it. And that that is an issue. And something I think the institution is trying to change, but then it's like, what hours would you give you would you give a change maker or decolonial consultant or a racial justice can like, it's it's really hard to work within that framework. But I think maybe this is kind of touching on our conversation a while ago, I think the responsibility of the university, and the responsibility of the students is so hard because people do apply for universities for a certain experience. And I think we're currently at this point where nobody really knows what's going on. But we're trying to make things happen. And we're trying to move forward. But it's just like, tapping into everyone's needs makes it hard to hold an institutional identity, quote, unquote, identity, that people will then know, okay, I apply for here, this is what I'm gonna get, but also be in the mindset of some people may not like this, or it may no longer be appropriate. So how do we change it without losing our institutional identity? So it is, yeah, it's, it's hard.
Terena Danner 38:26
I think it also taps into like the individualist mindset that sort of taking over sort of the broader media landscape where an individual's voice or perspective might hold more weight than like, even some big organisations. And it's just, it sort of begs the question, in what place does change makers view or students view of what's going on in the university? Participating in sort of like the functionality of change? And I feel as though it's, it's also a question of, like, when we're interviewing, when we're engaging in interviews, or having group discussions, every, in every student experience, or every changemakers experience is going to be different. There's going to be nuance, even if we like have the same race or sexual orientation, there's always going to be a slight difference. And it's when you unpack that, does it become a Pandora's box where you can't find a place to actually put the lid on and to say, okay, that's something in that box. And that's essentially how institutions of work by putting things into neat boxes so that, you know, we can prescribe things and say, Okay, this makes sense to go on this side, and this goes on this side. But when everybody has sort of been put into this amazing and joyful sort of acceptance, it's just where do you measure? And I think that is like the key to really unlocking the sort of change maker, sort of ethos and outlook. It's like, how do we quantify it?
Emilio Gotterbarm 40:00
So I come from a mixed background. So it's Latino, and European. And other than many countries, I don't really put weight on my identity that much. I push, like my own character first, that don't push my, my backgrounds or even my sexuality that much. Because it's for me, it's very unimportant. And it has worked throughout my whole life, and I know a lot of people who also come from like mixed backgrounds and have lived in many countries, and they also don't put that much weight on it. And, and I think it is important to address it in some occasions, but not as much. And not as forced, I would say, a good example was a class we had in animation for one of the first class, which was, I think it was called production principles. And our teacher, he always brought in some new footage from short films that were made all over the world. And then he also said, Anyone who wants to bring in some work from that they know, please do. And most of the people who sent work came from different backgrounds and different cultures. And it wasn't, I mean, there was never something written have something, bring something from your own country. But they did it anyway, which had a very positive impact. So it was this very subtle engagement of cultural exchange. That wasn't required. And it just happened. And it actually brought more interest from a lot of students who are from England or from Europe.
Terena Danner 42:00
And well, I would say that, it's really interesting to hear, like the different views from Design and Media schools, because obviously, you're focused on sort of creative collaborations and showcasing your work with public relations and the degrees that are more theoretical. We do have areas where we do collaborative projects, and we're able to sort of do a module on a one off, to engage in that sort of work, but it's mainly sort of communications based. So it's interesting to see how race and the subject of D, decolonization and inclusivity is sort of put into question. I think it was 91% of public relations practitioners were are Caucasian, or, and so and from like, a sort of upper middle class and middle class background. So obviously, that's changing now through, you know, various schemes. But it's interesting to see how, how different press being sort of, like prescriptive of it and actually being like a creator designer is because of course, you know, that appoint PR people are like the gatekeepers of media. And if we aren't representative in, in a work sense, and how is that meant to be reflected across social social media and various other media conglomerate? So I think it's interesting to see that, you know, there is a little bit more inclusion and you're able to take responsibility for yourself as creators, but in terms of public relations, where usually you're working for an agency or an organisation, how do you how how are you able to sort of encourage that sort of Outlook within your company, or the whoever you're working for?
Veronica Amon 43:53
I think it's interesting, especially what Amelia was talking about in terms of cultural exchange and identity within University and personally, it's a funny one, because I think it can be quite hard when you are maybe trying to just be yourself, brain and you just want to make art and design and animate. But sometimes then you walk into certain spaces, and they make it so clear that you are black or Asian, or an international student or working class or gay, or queer, you know, so then either you become I think some like having talked to friends sometimes it's the struggle of Okay, so if I don't talk about this, am I not doing my part? But also, me being this is that just not enough? And then whatever comes from me, obviously, inherently is from my experience, whether you see see it and it says it's blackity, black, black, black, you know, I mean, like, it's just not like, you know, so is often a hard space to navigate. But I definitely think within that, it's it's such a hard and again, complex conversation. But there have been experiences I've had where I've done projects that maybe aren't inherently about my identity and got worse grades than if I was to make them about my identity, but also vice versa, depending on the institution, I have done ones that incorporate my identity, and subconsciously, they're just not with it. They're just like, No, no, no, like you're calling us out and stuff we don't really need to be called out on, can you just do this, but on the other hand, when I've been in certain spaces, they're expecting me to bring forth that conversation. And unless I do, I've been sub, like subconsciously penalised for it. I think it is similar to the conversations we're having, I think, I would love to get to a space where it is just a cultural exchange. And then if people are asked to bring stuff to a classroom to a studio, and let's say the work isn't directly from their country, they're also not question on why that is, and then seeing that they're not representing like, I think we all watch, read, pick up things from so many different cultures that it would be great for us to get to that point, but not even but it's just a complex, there's so much that comes with it. And it's so subconscious. So, yeah, I don't know.
Terena Danner 46:26
So the change that I'd like to see in the art industry is just that ability to speak out, you know, to use your voice, with whatever background you've come from, and whatever gender or sexual orientation just to feel free to speak and not be judged. And to sort of bring something to light and, you know, be the pioneer for a new conversation where people can get together and speak openly and, you know, gain something positive out of it. Because I remember when I was back at school, and that was just not possible, really, to speak on these things or, you know, so I feel like Justin that that does a lot for for many people just to feel heard and to be represented.
Veronica Amon 47:15
I think it's quite hard because there's so much change. So maybe I'll tap into like changes I'm seeing and I want to see more of like I want to see it keep moving forward is one thing I'm really enjoying in the arts is like the decentralisation of London, in the arts industry. Maybe even in regards we can even tap into like identity but seeing people from specifically in terms of the UK artists and designers and creatives interacting with each other and creating work that is can be localised, but it's still with like contribution from other cities that aren't London. I think some of the most insightful work I've seen recently. It's been from that so I'd love to see more of that
About the podcast 48:07
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