The Value of Arts in Higher Education

By Barbara Sellers-Young.

Published by The Arts Collection

Format Price
Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

Twentieth century philosopher and educational leader John Dewey and twenty-first century cultural critic Richard Florida, although separated by two distinct cultural moments, share a viewpoint on the relationship between art and living. John Dewey in his 1934 book Art as Experience argued that art and life were integrally connected. Art he suggested functioned as an experience which engaged a process of inquiry that extended connections between various aspects of living. Richard Florida, author of the The Rise of the Creative Class links the creative process, often considered the realm of the arts, to economic success in the twenty-first century. Florida describes a new class of professionals he designates the ‘creative class’ that are distinctly different from those in the ‘working’ or ‘service class’ who are paid to execute the plans of others or from the ‘organizational man’ described by William Whyte in his 1956 book. The creative class is a group of professionals who “engage in complex problem solving that involves a great deal of independent judgment” and who “share a common creative ethos that values, creativity, individuality, difference and merit” in which all “manifestations of creativity are interlinked and inseparable” (2004, 8). This presentation uses Dewey and Florida as a starting point to advocate for the significance of arts and the skills associated with them in encouraging a framework that unites specificity with complexity, two valuable perspectives for twenty-first century problems.

Keywords: Arts, Higher Education, Richard Florida, John Dewey

International Journal of the Arts in Society, Volume 4, Issue 2, pp.197-206. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 1.150MB).

Dr. Barbara Sellers-Young

Dean, Faculty of Fine Arts, York University, Toronto, Ontario, Canada

Barbara Sellers-Young is an interdisciplinary scholar in the fields of dance, theatre and performance. Her interest in all forms of art and diverse performance styles informs her research on the moving body and globalization, which has taken her to Sudan, Egypt, Nepal, Japan, China, England and Australia. Professor Sellers-Young’s publications include Teaching Personality with Gracefulness and Breathing, Movement, Exploration. She is the co-editor of Bellydance: Orientalism, Transnationalism and Harem Fantasy which traces the impact of bellydancing from its initial introduction to the west through the writings of Flaubert to its popularity in the 1970s and 1980s in the wake of the feminist movement, and finally the globalization of the form in the 21st century. Her research has been supported by fellowships from the American Council of Learned Societies and the Centre for Cultural Research into Risk at the Charles Sturt University in Australia as well as a Davis Humanities Fellowship. She is the President of the Congress on Research in Dance.

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