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Compilation of images from the Creative Pedagogies and Encounters symposium ;

Sharing ideas, research and innovation

As 2022 drew to a close, The Exchange in Bush House played host to an international symposium focussing on the innovations that come about when the disciplines of the arts, social science, clinical studies and culture collide.

The symposium, Creative Pedagogies and Encounters at the intersection between art, ethnograpy, the social sciences and clinical studies, brought together people from all over the world with an interest in creative teaching practices and artistic methodologies. While most delegates were able to attend in-person, all the sessions were streamed to allow presenters and delegates from much further afield, such as Australia and the US, to attend virtually.

The symposium set out to examine whether creative practices and their outputs can contribute to the common good and the potential that art, experimentation, and research can bring to the benefit of higher education and other communities.

Session highlights included the innovative Moving Medicine Workshop, delivered by Exeter Medical School. A longer version of this workshop had already been rolled out to 200 medical students as part of their Medical Humanities curriculum and Dr Luci Richards and PhD student Gemma Lucas gave delegates an overview of how it worked.

We encourage participants to draw creative links between the movement activities, the body and healthcare. Themes that have emerged include stepping outside of your comfort zone; non-verbal communication; mirroring; movement in diagnosis and how ‘medicine moves’ e.g., rhythms in the body, rhythms in healthcare. We invite participants to reflect on movement as a vital way of knowing, learning and communicating.– Dr Luci Richards

Delegates saw a session streamed live from Arizona. Creative Encounters in Awe Walking, presented by Jennie Gubner and Sydney Streightiff explored the link between walking and mental wellbeing. Recent neuroscience research has shown that going on walks, while looking for things that inspire childlike wonder, can promote wellness and decrease stress. Delegates were told that going on a 15-min 'awe walk' once a week and stopping to appreciate nature, will help boost positive emotions and reduce stress. The presenters described ‘awe walks’ as being affordable accessible, and uplifting, and shown to promote emotions like empathy and compassion.

Awe is a positive emotion akin to childlike wonder experienced in the presence of things we don’t immediately understand. Awe can be felt in the presence of things, vast or tiny, from a beautiful sunset to the patterns on the back of a caterpillar. Making an effort to soak up details of the world around us is a happiness boost and these walks also increase emotions such as compassion and gratitude. The goal with this project is to give people creative tools to tune into Awe.– Jennie Gubner

As well as the power of awe walking, Jennie extended the exercise to include sharing art as a means of promoting well-being, particularly relevant for those for whom walking may be a challenge

Contributions from online attendees to the symposium, Creative Pedagogies and Encounters at the intersection between art, ethnograpy, the social sciences and clinical studies

In a different session, attendees reflected on the relationships between creative methods and the social sciences and how to incorporate them in research. The workshop, run by the Visual and Embodied Methodologies (VEM) network together with the Faculty of Social Sciences & Public Policy Methods Seminar Series, explored ways of incorporating creative methods into research design, together with considering the opportunities for activism/advocacy as well as influencing policy.

Music, writing, poetry workshops, art and film installations have been the tools used to raise levels of wellbeing and community healing amongst Brazilian migrant women, as well as helping to raise the visibility of gender-based violence. A testament to art being an empowering resource, delegates watched a performance of “I am a Brazilian woman’, delivered by six Brazilian women, all of whom had personally experienced levels of prejudice and abuse, both overt and inferred.

During the day, attendees heard how:

  • participation in creative workshops has a positive effect on participants’ mental wellbeing
  • the concept of “belonging” is key to understanding isolation and susceptibility to violence, as well as participants’ hope for liberation
  • creative methods are useful in allowing participants to take on agency to reinterpret research material to co-produce their versions of their lived experiences in order to reach wider audience
  • race was a key theme of the day with creative methods opening up new pathways for research while provoking difficult conversations in a manner that makes sharing more comfortable for all participants

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Find out more about upcoming events in the Faculty of Social Science & Public Policy.

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