Arts and Ecology*
MFA, MA, PGDip, PGCert
Full time and part time
Starts January 2022
Rather than a discipline-specific siloed approach, the Arts and Ecology programme engages students in problem-based and place-based learning. Any artist who is attentive in engaging with place will not only research and reveal environmental crisis but will do so in a complex, integrated and subtle fashion; the resultant work will avoid stridency and dogma, but will nevertheless inform, challenge, inspire and disturb in ways that only the arts can.
The MFA Arts and Ecology programme is designed for practitioners with an established practice, for artists working in any art form and for curators and producers. It aims to help these practitioners foster creative projects in the context of the climate crisis and the ecological, social, and ethical challenges we all face. The course takes a metadisciplinary approach and begins with the recognition that the world is alive and we can no longer act upon it as if it is inanimate. Through a series of themed labs utilising the interior and exterior spaces of the Dartington estate it enables students to develop their artwork.
Navigating and debating the varying definitions in this highly contested field, the programme encourages examination of arts and ecology as an academic field of practice. As well as theoretical, academic work, the programme provides an opportunity for arts practitioners to revisit and reshape their work through an ecological lens, supporting a broad range of creative forms and outputs. It encourages students to consider how creative outcomes developed on the programme can be broadcast to wide and diverse audiences. The programme is delivered through a series of practical and critical modules both in residence and through online learning.
Image credit: Nomeda & Gediminas Urbonas. Mycomorph Lab. Psychotropic House: Zooetics Pavilion of Ballardian Technologies. Installation detail. XII Baltic Triennial, CAC Vilnius, 2015. Photograph by Giedrius Ilgūnas.
*Please note this course is currently going through Approval with our Accrediting Body The University of Plymouth. You can register your interest to start in September 2021 below.
- Development of arts practice in the context of the climate crisis.
A full-time (1 year) or part-time programme (2 years) with 4 x 30 credit modules and 1 x 60 credit dissertation or major project module. The taught (30 credit) modules are six weeks’ long. Teaching at Dartington is concentrated into two-week periods for each of the first four modules, with supported e-learning and independent learning inbetween.
The course content is suitable for practitioners from any artform or creative discipline, including dancers/choreographers, musicians, story tellers, fine artists, installation artists, sound artists, architects and land artists, and those who see living and being as an art practice.
The MFA option involves a further 60 credits of study resulting in a significant, self initiated public outcome, performance, exhibition or publication. Participants will be drawn from our own MA programmes as well as those from other institutions.
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how to apply
Click below to apply for this course online(form opens in new window/tab)..
Please ensure you submit your supporting materials (see below) after completing your application form.
Closing dates for applications
We are currently accepting applications on a rolling basis for this course, however space is limited so it is best to apply as early as you can to increase your chance of success.
Additional Documentation in Support of your Application
After you have submitted your application, please send all necessary supporting information listed below as soon as possible to allow us to process your application.
Documents should be sent by post to:
Dartington Arts School
The Old Postern
Please provide the following supporting documentation after your application:
1) Certificate(s) or transcript(s) of first degree or equivalent qualifications: these can be Original or certified copies:
Photocopies MUST be certified by a public notary or solicitor (with contact details provided for them).
Any documents which are not in English MUST be accompanied by a full translation then certified by a public notary or solicitor. All translations must be accompanied by the certificate or transcript in the original language.
Important notes for students requiring a Student Visa
UK Visas and Immigration (UKVI) will only accept original copies of your documents during the visa application process. We are happy to accept originals, but it is safer to post certified photocopies which meet the above guidelines. Please bring the originals with you to enrolment if offered a place.
UKVI also require a full translation of any documents that are not in English.
Dartington Arts School is licensed under Dartington Trust as a Student Visa Sponsor. To comply with our sponsorship duties, we are required to check other aspects of your application in addition to your academic achievements. We will look at previous studies in the UK and other aspects outlined in UKVI guidance for sponsors. Information you provide on your application form will be passed on to the UKVI once you have been offered a place and Dartington Arts School agrees to sponsor you.
2) A recent passport-size photograph
3) A copy of the front cover and information page of your current passport (inform us immediately if you get a new passport before you come to the UK to study).
4) A copy of any previous or current UK visa.
Translations of documents which are not in English
The original translation must contain:
- confirmation from the translator/translation company that it is an accurate translation of the original document
- the date of the translation
- the translator/an authorised official of the translation company’s full name and signature, and
- the translator/translation company’s contact details.
Documentary requirements for Student Visa applicants can be found here (gov.uk). Please read the Guidance and Appendix at the bottom of the page.
TERM DATES AND teaching dates
The programme starts in January 2022. Onsite teaching dates to follow.
programme structure and modules
Modules 1 and 2, and 3, run sequentially during term 1 and 2 with module 4 running concurrently but assessed at the end of term 2 this allows the modules to reflect and respond to each other. Module 5 runs for the whole of term 3 and is the final project for students exiting with an MA. For those wishing to undertake an MFA they will attend for a further 2 terms full time or 1 year part time. Below are draft modules, which are indicative only at this stage, though we hope to confirm more details soon.
Modules 1 and 2 run sequentially in term 1 (January – March) and modules 3 and 4 run sequentially in term 2 (April – June). Module 5 is a double module and runs for the whole of term 3. It is the final project for students exiting with an MA. For those wishing to undertake an MFA they will attend for a further 2 terms full time or 1 year part time.
PGCert students take modules 1 and 2 and must study full-time.
PGDip students take modules 1, 2, 3 and 4 and may study full-time or *part-time (*UK only).
Due to government regulations, we are not currently able to accept part-time international applicants. Part-time UK applicants should note that your study is spread over 2 years rather than concentrated into 1 year, however, when you are studying a module it is a full-time commitment for that period of time.
Module 1: Introduction to Fieldwork
This module enables you to explore place-based and project-based enquiry and methods. You are reaching for a thorough understanding of how everything is connected. The module includes a foundational exploration of histories, theories, and methodologies in the field of arts and ecology. You will look at sites, systems and contexts and consider the relationship between arts and activism.
Module 2: Interdependent Systems
This module involves a deeper enquiry into the topic of interconnected systems (ecological, economic, social) and how they weave together. It moves towards metadisciplinarity and regenerative culture. You will explore how artists work in collaboration across disciplinary boundaries (science, technology, engineering, economics, etc.) to find rich ways of knowing and meaning-making.
Module 3: Beyond Human
This module ranges through contemplation of species, diversity, human consciousness, the more than human, trophic cascades, resilient adaptive systems, ecological balance, symbiosis, the expanded self, interspecies dialogue, the unmarked, ecocide, and empathy. It asks what is human without a notion of separateness. It considers how these enquiries can reflect into changemaking and networked learning.
Module 4: Trajectories
This module provides support for the student’s ongoing creative practice research and development in response to ecological concerns. It provides the foundation for the development of the major project / dissertation module.
Module 5: Major Project/Dissertation
This module supports the student’s growing arts and ecology artwork. Students will devise and negotiate an appropriate and relevant personal project which will enable them to demonstrate their practical, creative, theoretical and reflective practice. Through a process of negotiated project proposal, outcomes will be agreed and can take the form of a 15,000 word dissertation interrogating arts and ecology, or a creative project in the public domain, or a combination of both (50/50). Outputs from the module will evidence the depth of development and synthesis of knowledge from the programme.
Module 6: MFA Professional Project
This module is self-initiated from the outset and prioritises individual research, conducted under supervision with identified tutors and other mentors and external advisors considered essential to the study. MFA students learn from and contribute to the delivery of the module through their interaction with peers, tutors and the wider arts and cultural community. Emphasis is placed upon independence, originality, initiative and enterprise. Teaching and learning will be complimented by the wide range of visiting lecturers (e.g. artists, curators, ecologists, choreographers, directors, philosophers, performers composers, critics, producers, etc), providing the opportunity to discuss work with renowned experts. Students will develop individual opportunities with national and/or international venues, opportunities, agencies, etc., which may also result in working independently or at distance. Culmination of the module is the production of a substantial and resolved creative outcome that will be exhibited / performed / published and assessed in an appropriate public arena.
Alan Boldon, Acting Programme Lead for Arts and Ecology
Alan Boldon is a practising artist and is the Managing Director of the Dartington Trust. His paintings have been exhibited throughout Europe (Germany, Luxembourg, Poland, Switzerland, Netherlands, Denmark, Norway), Asia (Malaysia, Japan, Thailand, Myanmar), US and Canada. He has taught widely in higher education and was formerly Head of the School of Art, Design and Media at the University of Brighton. Previous roles include: Associate Curator and the Head of Research at Arnolfini; Head of Arts and Ecology at Dartington College of Arts; Director of an International Arts Summer School in Luxembourg; Lecturer in Fine Art in Context at the University of the West of England. Alan has taught at and advised higher education institutions throughout the world including work at Trondheim School of Arts, University of New Mexico, Banff Centre for the Arts, LaSalle College of Art and Design, NTU Singapore, Nanyang Academy of Fine Arts, Taylor’s University Malaysia, San Francisco College of Art and Design, University of The Fjords, Icelandic Academy of the Arts. He is on the board of MIT Press Leonardo Journal. He has worked with many Arts and Design organisations on strategy including the RSA, TATE, and the Tobacco Factory.
Dr Tracey Warr, Head of Research, Dartington Trust
Dr Tracey Warr is Head of Research and Reader in Poetics of Imagination for Dartington Trust. She is a fiction and non-fiction writer. Her books on contemporary art include The Midden (Garret, 2018), Remote Performances in Nature and Architecture (Routledge, 2015) and The Artist’s Body (Phaidon, 2000). She has published numerous catalogue essays and journal articles on a wide range of contemporary artists. She previously held academic posts at Dartington College of Arts; Oxford Brookes University; Glasgow School of Art; Bauhaus University, Weimar; Piet Zwart Institute, Rotterdam and Surrey Institute of Art and Design. She has 23 years’ experience as an arts academic and has supervised six PhDs to completion. She has undertaken art residencies including Modern Art Oxford; MIT, Cambridge, US; Helsinki International Artists’ Programme, Finland; Maison Daura, Saint Cirq Lapopie, France; Outlandia, Glen Nevis, Scotland and Matadero, Madrid, Spain. She has curated many artists’ projects and residencies, including working with James Turrell, Marina Abramovic, Marcus Coates, London Fieldworks and many more. Her PhD was awarded by University of Plymouth and was entitled The Creative Act: Writing and Curating with Artists. She also holds an MA in Creative Writing (University of Wales Trinity St David’s), MPhil English Language and Literature (Oxford University) and BA (Hons) English Language and Literature (University of Hull). Before starting work as an academic she worked for the Institute of Contemporary Arts, London; Arts Council of Great Britain; Chatto & Windus Publishers and as an independent, international art curator.
Natasha Rivett-Carnac is Curator of Arts and Ecology at Dartington School of Arts. She has been working in the arts and culture space for 20 years. Natasha began her professional life as a violinist in Minneapolis, Minnesota (USA) but soon retrained as a curator, gaining her MA in Arts and Cultural Management from Dartington College of Arts in 2006. Her early career was spent in London working with cutting-edge arts organisation Platform London. Platform combines art, activism, education and research. Natasha facilitated the building of an archive of Platform’s work and assisted in delivering C Words: Carbon, Climate, Capitol, Culture at the Arnolfini, Bristol. She has published in academic journals and magazines including Resurgence and worked with The University of Edinburgh’s Dangerous Women Project and Goldsmith University’s Women’s Art Library, and elsewhere.
Her blog series for 1 Million Women, a campaign group of women and girls around the planet, features BBC’s The One Show reporter Lucy Seigle, London International Festival of Theatre founder, Lucy Neil, and others. As a founding producer and later Curator of Narratives at Outrage + Optimism, a weekly podcast co-hosted by Christiana Figuerres, Natasha has been at the forefront of communicating climate change and integrating it with arts and culture. It is the most widely listened to climate change podcast, topping the UK Politics podcast charts twice. It has been selected as the number 10 All-Time Podcasts on the Apple UK Charts, been the number 3 Politics Podcast on Apple Australia Charts and was listed at number 15 of The Guardian Best Podcasts of 2019. Outrage + Optimism was selected as the News & Politics Podcast Honoree in the prestigious 2020 Webby Awards. Natasha is also the coowner of Hallalen, an 8 acre re-wilding project in Devon, UK. Her current writing draws heavily from this project and includes themes around land observation, phenomenology, ecology, and place-based learning. She lives in Devon with her husband, son and daughter.
Gediminas and Nomeda Urbonas, Associate Faculty for MFA Arts and Ecology
Urbonas Studio have an interdisciplinary research practice that facilitates exchange amongst diverse nodes of knowledge production and artistic practice in pursuit of projects that transform civic spaces and collective imaginaries. They collaborate with experts in different cultural fields to develop practice-based artistic research models that allow participants—including their students—to pursue works that merge urbanism, new media, social sciences and pedagogy to critically address the transformation of civic space and ecology.
They have exhibited internationally including the São Paulo (twice), Berlin, Moscow (twice), Lyon, Gwangju, Busan, Taipei Biennales, Folkestone Triennial – and Manifesta and Documenta exhibitions – among numerous other international shows, including a solo show at the Venice Biennale and MACBA in Barcelona. Their awards include the Lithuanian National Prize (2007); Best International Artist at the Gwangju Biennale (2006) and best national pavilion at the Venice Biennale (2007). They are co-founders of the JUTEMPUS interdisciplinary art program (1993), the first independent artist-led initiative in Lithuania.
Their writing on artistic research as a form of intervention into social and political crisis was published in Devices for Action (MACBA, 2008) and Villa Lituania (Sternberg, 2008). Urbonas co-edited Public Space? Lost and Found (MIT Press, 2017) that brings together artists, planners, theorists and art historians in an examination of the complex inter-relations between the creation and uses of public space and the role played by public art. Urbonas’s five-year research project Zooetics explored the potential to connect with the noetics and poetics of non-human life in the context of planetary ecological imbalance. Zooetics concluded in 2018 with a symposium at MIT and opened a new research program focusing on Climate Visions. They curated the Swamp School – a future learning environment at the 16th Venice Architecture Biennale 2018. The book Swamps and the New Imagination: On the Future of Cohabitation in Art, Architecture and Philosophy published by Sternberg Press and distributed by MIT Press, is forthcoming in 2020.
Gediminas Urbonas is currently Associate Professor at MIT‘s Program in Art, Culture and Technology in Cambridge, Massachusetts and has held teaching positions at NTNU – Norwegian University for Science and Technology (2005-2009), VDU – Vytautas Magnus University in Kaunas, CAFA – Central Academy of Fine Art in Beijing, and NABA – Nuova Accademia di Belle Arte in Milano.
Tom Rivett-Carnac, Associate Faculty for MFA Arts and Ecology
Tom Rivett-Carnac is a political lobbyist for the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change and an author on climate change policy. He was President and Chief Executive of CDP North America, a group working in financial markets for disclosure of climate change related risks and opportunities in listed companies. He represented Stakeholder Forum for a Sustainable Future at the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change in Nairobi in 2006. He was appointed Senior Advisor to Christiana Figueres as Executive Secretary to the Convention, focusing on political strategy towards achieving binding international agreements. He contributed significantly to the Paris Climate Accord of December 2015. He and Christiana Figueres co-wrote The Future We Choose: Surviving the Climate Crisis (Manilla Press, 2020). He is director of Unknown Road Ltd. And founding director, with Christiana Figueres of Global Optimism Ltd.