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Dr John Johnston is an artisteducator researcher and activist who advocates for societal change through the entanglement of the Arts with international affairs in what he describes as ‘creative diplomacy.’

His work has brought him to places of conflict such as the former Yugoslav Republics of Bosnia Herzegovina, Serbia and Croatia. He has also worked in Zambia, Rwanda and South Africa. However, the main focus of his work has remains centred on the arts and peace building in his native Northern Ireland.

He is currently the head of the international Masters Artisteducator (iMAE) at ArtEZ.  He describes iMAE as a living artwork, that aims to illustrate the potentiality of arts education to enable societal change. Johnston works in collaboration with the iMAE team and students to develop artistic methodologies and pedagogies that question our sense of Self and Other with the goal to form praxis of .

Through his work he has introduced new combinations of concepts and actions that resulted in Issues based Arts Education, Socially Engaged Research and Site Specificity.

In his PhD (2017) he argued for a new form of arts education that focused on issues-based arts, conflict transformation and socially engaged research.

In this presentation Johnston positions his current work within the cadre of No University. He emphasizes the importance of working beyond the institution while also underlining the many challenges of ‘doing education’ outside the relative safety of the university. He concludes by introducing the proposed UNESCO chair at ArtEZ, and reflects on his philosophy and belief that issues based art education has the potential to change the world.


Dr John Johnston

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