Envisioning change : quality and creative arts in Australian universities
chapterposted on 2017-12-06, 00:00 authored by Donna BrienDonna Brien, J Webb
One of the recent growth areas in universities is the creative arts, now taught from undergraduate to doctoral level in institutions across the country and globally. Its relative youth as a discipline means we can track the changes in its form, mode and identity over its university life. In this chapter we focus on the arts as a microcosm of the tertiary education sector’s investment in creativity. Creativity is, of course, not just about artistic vision, but is central to success in a wide range of endeavours. Higher education is one of the key potential generators of creative skills, but although most universities list creativity as a graduate attribute, the sector remains largely unexamined with regard to how, and how well, it develops and enhances the creativity of its graduates. Recently a number of criticisms – from the public, the media and formal audit bodies such as the Australian Universities Quality Agency (AUQA) – have been levelled at universities, and at their creative arts programs. We have been challenged to show that we do in fact adequately prepare our students for their futures after graduation. How we respond to such challenges will affect the sustainability and growth of the university sector. Analyses of creative programs – their recent past and their likely future – can provide insights into the issues of quality and creativity: how it is measured and evaluated, how students can be more effectively trained, and for what we are training them. We outline the shape and health of these Australian university programs and, drawing on research we have undertaken locally and internationally, posit some mechanisms for a changed and refined approach, across the university sector, in the future.