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Social and Ecological Activism in the Visual Arts – workgroup


Admission requirements

No admission requirements for this course.


In this workgroup, students will learn how to critically analyze, interpret, and discuss in detail a range of tactics and approaches used in the fields of the visual arts, design, and architecture in relation to social protest, critique, and activism. Workgroups delve further into the questions of the lectures, and are articulated around different terms forming a lexicon. The classes consist mainly of group discussion of key texts and readings proposed weekly and articulated around a notion.

Course objectives

Upon completion of the course, the student will have gained: ● Practical and analytical knowledge of how different languages and strategies are deployed in the visual arts and critical theory. ● Skills in critical thinking, argumentation, substantiation, and clear expression. ● Methodologies of reading and discussing texts collectively and creatively.


The timetables are available through My Timetable.

Mode of instruction

Every session will be articulated through discussion and presentation of the texts assigned. Two to three students will take the role of presenting the text and moderating the ensuing debate. Furthermore, the workgroup will explore different creative methodologies of reading texts.

The course consists of:

  • Group discussion of key texts

  • Excursions

  • Self-study

  • Hands-on workshops

Assessment method


Participation: students are requested to prepare well the readings of the texts and materials proposed, and to actively participate in their discussion.

Presentation and moderation: for each workgroup session, a group of two-three students are assigned to introduce the text and instigate and moderate its debate. Students with this role need to research the author and context—historical, political, discursive—of the text, prepare guiding and discussion-provoking questions, and moderate the participation of the group. These roles are rotatory on a weekly basis.

Lexicon: at the core of this course lies the conviction that language, as well as the production of imaginaries and other performative tools, is key to symbolic and material world-making and thus central to any critical, aesthetic, political project. As Ocean Vuong warns us, the future is in our hands as it is in our mouth: we need to articulate it. The readings and materials in the workgroup are organized under different terms that correspond either to activist or/and artistic strategies or operative practical notions, which in turn redefine and expand the understanding of critical artistic and cultural practices. Students will have to write and compose their own glossary of ten terms chosen from the list provided or proposed by them in consultation with the instructor; the writing should be informed by the readings proposed, the discussion in the seminar and lectures, as well as by personal research.


Active participation: 20%
Text presentation and moderation: 20%
Lexicon: 60%


To be determined.

Inspection and feedback

How and when an exam review will take place will be disclosed together with the publication of the exam results at the latest. If a student requests a review within 30 days after publication of the exam results, an exam review will have to be organized.

Reading list

Indicative reading list:
Liz McQuiston, Protest!: A history of social and political protest graphics, (Princeton, New Jersey: Princeton University Press, 2019)
Iris van der Tuin and Nanna Verhoeff, Critical Concepts for the Creative Humanities, (London: Rowman & Littlefield, 2022)
T.J. Demos, Beyond the World’s End: Arts of Living at the Crossing, (Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2020)
Otto van Busch, Making Trouble: Design and Material Activism, (London: Bloomsbury Visual Arts, 2022)
Dirk Vis, Research for People Who Would Rather Create (Eindhoven: Onomatopee, 2021)

Additional texts will be announced at the beginning of the course.


Enrolment through uSis is mandatory.

General information about uSis is available on the website.


  • For substantive questions, contact the lecturer listed in the right information bar.

  • For questions about enrolment, admission, etc, contact the Education Administration Office: Rogier Schneemann (


For other courses in the domains of music and fine arts, please visit:

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