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June 18, 2019 NCAD Strategy
New NCAD strategy to challenge traditional approaches

The National College of Art and Design (NCAD) has published its new strategy, Futures, Bold & Curious (2019 – 2024).

Director of NCAD, Professor Sarah Glennie, said: “It is our ambition that, as we embed our new strategy, every student and teaching experience will be informed by bold and curious thinking. We can no longer predict the future of work, or the kinds of skills that our economy and society will need in the decades to come. However, with significant challenges ahead – such as climate change, digital transformation and automation – we will need independent thinkers to contribute to finding solutions to these challenges.

“NCAD’s new, five-year strategy will mean that – in every decision we make and in everything we do – being bold and curious will be encouraged. Art and design education stimulates the creativity and imagination needed to make our environment sustainable, our societies inclusive and life richer.”

NCAD’s strategy focuses on three main pillars:

  • Embedding bold and curious learning through investing and innovating in teaching practice; supporting a vibrant research culture as a resource for learning; and implementing strong wellbeing programmes to benefit staff and students.
  • Connecting and collaborating through cross-institutional and international research programmes; working with the community, particularly in The Liberties; and promoting strong diversity at all levels within the College.
  • Implementing an effective organisational structure through strong accountability and compliance infrastructures; an enhanced physical environment and continuous review and evaluation.

Sarah Glennie said that the perception of art and its place in education needed to shift: “Arts in education is often framed as a route to cultural experience for children, and that – in itself – is important. However, art education will only have very clear, tangible impacts when it is presented as a way to support critical reflection on the world, peer-to-peer learning and self-directed research.

“It is the experience of many NCAD students that an education in art and design does not get the priority it deserves within the secondary school system, particularly as this relates to career guidance. Parents too don’t always see a value in creative pathways in education.  Increasingly however, the importance of creativity in a dynamically-changed world is being understood by all. NCAD wants to be a leader in that debate.

“Often – and prudently – we promote subjects that align to labour market needs: when Ireland became an active member of the EU, languages became important. Science, technology, engineering and maths have become critical subjects to maintain foreign direct investment and our growing, domestic tech sector. As the world changes faster than ever before, the economic drivers have become less predictable. Art and design education can offer skills and resilience that can be adapted across to meet needs of the economy and society.”

Launching the NCAD strategy today, the Minister for State for Higher Education, Mary Mitchell O’Connor said: “Students and teaching staff at NCAD are taking a dynamic approach to learning: it’s a way to future proofing our economy and society. Take fashion, for instance: I have been hugely impressed at the way in which students have been addressing sustainability in clothing design and materials for quite some time, and long before public debate ventured into this area.

“With a long history in art and design education, spanning over two centuries in Ireland, NCAD has been the centre for excellence for so many of our artists and designers.  This new strategy does not allow the College to sit on its laurels: it raises the bar, calls for new approaches to teaching and learning, and it addresses important issues of strong management and accountability.”

The chair of the Board of NCAD, Dr Richard Thorn said: “NCAD must continue to play a lead role in the artistic and creative life of our country.  But, it must also be a leader in thinking about the way art and design practitioners and educators are developed.

“The approach to learning – set out in our new strategy – is visionary:  it emphasises learning by doing and by the ‘dirty learning’ that surrounds this. This learning accepts that sometimes there may be failures, and there will be plenty of successes too. But only by doing, failing and succeeding, will solutions to challenges be found.”

Dr Thorn said that the development of the NCAD five-year strategy was the product of a forensic review of the role and responsibility of NCAD as a national institution charged with the development of creative, thoughtful art and design practitioners and educators. “It has come about through listening to the student voice, the teaching voice, the partner and collaborator voice. We have worked with our funders – the Higher Education Authority and the Department of Education and Skills – to ensure that our vision is underpinned by a robust organisation.

“With just over a year in service as the Director of NCAD, the vision and commitment that Sarah Glennie has brought to our organisation has underpinned this new approach. NCAD – through the independence of its board – has a licence to be visionary and no stone is being left unturned. Under Sarah’s leadership and with everyone working together, NCAD has an exciting five years ahead,” he added.

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