University of Cambridge > > Pedagogy, Language, Arts & Culture in Education (PLACE) Group Seminars > ‘Arts-based’ and ‘STEAMed’ research approaches: Intersections of interdisciplinary research with visual and performing intercultural arts practices

‘Arts-based’ and ‘STEAMed’ research approaches: Intersections of interdisciplinary research with visual and performing intercultural arts practices

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In the academic world, theories often divide the world into hegemonic categories, such as nation-states and fixed ethnic groups. Recently, a paradigm shift (as in Kuhnian science) has occurred leading to the use of arts practices as research methods and in order to respond to theories and approaches to understanding human conditions that have reduced the complexity of life meaning. Visual arts, dance and music are artforms which challenge and offer new ways of viewing and alternative ways of knowing through seeing and embodiment, that raise new research questions and produce new subject positions through participant-performers. Dance, music, the visual arts movingly engage audience-spectators in research. The body, the voice, and the form is the site/sight/cite of difference from which a variety of theoretical positions provoke and intervene using specific research tools embodied in arts practice, releasing and constructing new meaning. How these performance, objects, and productions serve as ‘research’ will be discussed and illustrated in this session.

This session is concerned with interdisciplinarity (including arts and science) and interculturality and how they draw attention to new insights for understanding a changed world. The environmental Arts, STEM , and STEAM research projects reported in this session are drawn from a recently funded BERA research commission (and subsequent projects) which problematise STEM -to-STEAM as pedagogic practices. This research features the use of arts-based research methods (and arts-based pedagogies) to illuminate the dynamics of exchange across cultures and disciplines, bringing out connections and interconnections between.

The visual arts research reported in the session focuses on ways that art practices enable the construction of new knowledge. What may be thought of as universal and stabilizing about the visual arts is only a small part of the complex and wide-ranging character of the aesthetic. Visual arts-based research also enables new knowledge by constructing, interrogating, and destabilizing cultural conditions and positions. The connective and persuasive power of visual research methods will be discussed using categories of data collection and presentation appropriate for visual information and expressive forms. Student research images and an example of the art of curation will be shown to illustrate interdisciplinary and intercultural investigation.

Pamela Burnard is Professor of Arts, Creativities and Education at the Faculty of Education, and Bye Fellow, Homerton College, University of Cambridge, ( She convenes the British Educational Research Association (BERA) Special Interest Group, Creativities in Education (, and the biennial international conference, Building Interdisciplinary Bridges Across Cultures and Creativities ( She is an international authority on creativities research and has published widely on creative teaching and learning and the expanded conceptualization of diverse creativities across education sectors and creative industries. Her most recent co-edited 2016 publication, The Routledge International Handbook of Intercultural Arts Research, was motivated by the collective interest and energy of all those who supported the launch of the Creativities Intercultural Arts Network (CIAN) and the CIAN Fora Series held in Homerton College across 2012.

This talk is part of the Pedagogy, Language, Arts & Culture in Education (PLACE) Group Seminars series.

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