The Melbourne UNESCO Observatory of Arts Education is located at the Melbourne Graduate School of Education, within The University of Melbourne. Established in 1853, the University of Melbourne is a public-spirited institution that makes distinctive contributions to society in research, learning and teaching and engagement. It’s consistently ranked among the leading universities in the world, with international rankings of world universities placing it as number 1 in Australia and number 32 in the world, and the Melbourne Graduate School of Education is ranked 21st in the world and the top Australian school of education (Times Higher Education World University Ranking 2017-2018).
The Melbourne UNESCO Observatory of Arts Education was established in November 2012 and became a member of the network of Observatories on Arts Education in the Asia-Pacific Region in February 2017 (MOU with UNESCO Bangkok). In March, 2017, the network of Observatories joined the UNESCO Paris International Network for Arts Education Research for Cultural Diversity and Sustainable Development (UNITWIN). The Melbourne UNESCO Observatory of Arts Education focuses on research, cultural diversity and sustainable development through the arts. Members of the Observatory currently include academic staff within the Melbourne Graduate School of Education’s Arts Education group, who teach, research, publish and collaborate with the community in arts-based and arts-led endeavors. The Observatory also publishes the Journal of Arts Education and is affiliated with the e-journal of Multidisciplinary Arts, holds monthly Colloquia which are open to the public, and is in the process of establishing international exchange programs, internships and work integrated learning for, in and through arts education.
The Melbourne UNESCO Arts Education Observatory recognises the pivotal role of the arts in education to foster intercultural dialogue, sustainable development and social cohesion through knowledge-sharing and collaboration. The Observatory contributes to the development of community and identity, challenging outdated ideas and stimulating innovation in a manner that fosters social understanding and tolerance, distinguishing the University, the City of Melbourne, and Australia as global, cultural and educational leaders.
In an increasingly knowledge-based society, the Melbourne UNESCO Arts Education Observatory bridges the divide between research, community and current practices via the mainstreaming of the arts in formal and informal learning (intellectual, social, emotional, cultural, aesthetic, spiritual) and enabling the seamless flow of information between schools, governments, ministries, NGOs and individuals.
The Observatory supports UNESCO in the facilitation of international knowledge-sharing by generating, collecting and re-packaging relevant, quality research; allowing access to current information, resources and best practices; advocating for the mainstreaming of arts in educational systems in the Asia-Pacific region; and influencing cultural and educational policy development and management.
- Facilitate innovative learning and development at all levels of education
- Contribute to and highlight the critical value of quality tertiary education of generalist teachers, arts educators and artists
- Develop national and international networks and partnerships to establish and engage with communities of practice
- Undertake, collect and re-package current research and resources for arts education professionals
- Advocate for heritage preservation and the development of cultural identity, diversity and innovation through the arts
The Melbourne UNESCO Observatory of Arts Education is housed in the Melbourne Graduate School of Education under the Directorship of Professor Susan Wright. Between 2006-2011 it operated as the UNESCO Observatory for Multidisciplinary Research in the Arts, within the Faculty of Architecture, Building and Planning under the Directorship of Dr Lindy Joubert.
Lindy Joubert, the Founding Director of the inaugural UNESCO Observatory, is Senior Lecturer in the Faculty of Architecture, Building and Planning at the University of Melbourne and currently is the Vice President World Craft Council Asia Pacific Region (South Pacific). She is Editor-in-Chief of the UNESCO Observatory e-journal Multi-disciplinary Research in the Arts and the UNESCO Observatory Cultural Village Reading Series.
During the period 2000 to 2003 Lindy Joubert was in Paris, working as a consultant to UNESCO on a full‐time basis. Prior to this period, she was Director of the Asia‐ Pacific Confederation of Arts Educationand had been a University academic in the arts since 1978. This work established a link, which after attending UNESCO meetings in India and Hong Kong, in 2005, led to a proposal to UNESCO that an Observatory should be established at the University of Melbourne. The focus of the Observatory was to bring people together with shared interests in the arts and community wellbeing, to support cross‐disciplinary collaborative partnerships with government and industry bodies, and further the contribution of research to public life. The official launch of the Observatory took place at Circus Oz Birrarung Marr, in 2008
Lindy edited the book Educating in the Arts – the Asian Experience, Twenty-four Essays (Springer, 2008) and currently is preparing a sequel, Educating in the Crafts – the Global Experience. This book includes 21 contributors illustrating a wide range of arts education programs in the Asia‐Pacific Region. Written by leaders in a wide range of creative fields and from all corners of the Asian region, this collection of essays presents arts and education programs which reflect traditional and contemporary practices.
Lindy has led teams for Community Arts Development Scheme for VicHealth; the Australia Council and the Creative Arts Strategy for the new Royal Children’s Hospital, Melbourne; and engaged in UNESCO creative capacity building projects in the Cook Islands; Papua New Guinea; Kenya; Lapland; Timor Leste and Indigenous Australia. She has had 34 international exhibitions, including six in New York City.
Cultural Village Project
There is extensive empirical evidence for the significance of placein community health and wellbeing and supports the role of place‐making in line with the UN Millennium Development Goals. Cultural Villages are local communities seeking to support the health‐providing and sustaining aspects of their cultures and practices through new infrastructure – spaces for community gatherings, community services, arts‐in‐education, and protection of heritage. Partnership building and the fostering of ongoing collaboration with local communities is fundamental to the Cultural Village program. The nature of the UNESCO Observatory’s collaborative work embodies the University of Melbourne’s strategic goal of engagement and knowledge transfer, as well as providing communities the opportunity to engage in a two‐way educative process on their views, cultural orientations and direct participation in key decision‐making processes. Cultural Village projects bring together communities and supporting NGOs, architect firms, state government representatives, university‐based academics and students.
Cultural Village Reading Series
Kidzbookhub is producing a series of children’s readers about the World Cultural Village series edited by Lindy Joubert. The readers include a series of photographic and illustrated essays showing village life around the world.
Global Village Projects
The development of a Centre for Traditional and Contemporary Arts and Culture in Lospalos is in a valued partnership with the State Secretariat for Culture, Government of Timor-Leste. Other key partners are the communities of Lospalos and Many Hands International (an NGO). The Melbourne UNESCO Observatory was instrumental in obtaining the initial funding for architects and engineers to provide the concept plans. The Project Patron of the Centre is His Excellency Dr José Ramos-Horta, the former President of Timor-Leste. The Centre will run arts and culture based programs and events for local people and tourists, and skills development in arts, crafts and cultural tourism. Activities are intended to support cultural maintenance, promote social cohesion and cultural asset-based economic development.
The Cultural Village project near Levi, in Finnish Lapland is for the Sami people and for cultural tourism and education. The development was supervised by Niiles‐Jouni Aikio and Ante Aikio. The design includes a living museum, an indoor and outdoor space where the Sami people have the opportunity to use and demonstrate their traditions and skills to local and international visitors, and also showcase their handicraft and unique style of food preparation. Reindeer herding is an important part in Sami culture – a large corral for 40‐50 reindeers is incorporated in the site.
Worowa school, on the significant site of the Coranderrk Station, Victoria, is a secondary college directed by Aboriginal peoples. Through a Faculty of Architecture, Building and Planning postgraduate subject – ‘Facilities for Social Sustainability’, students specialising in architecture, botany, history and environmental science developed plans for new landscape designs, facilities and a remodelled cultural centre, under the supervision of Lois Peeler (School Principal).
Wesley College Melbourne and communities of Yiramalay via Fitzroy Crossing (Western Australia) have developed a close partnership over six years. Some of the stated objectives are to: “expand life opportunities and learning pathways for students in both communities”. The UNESCO Observatory collaborated with researchers in the IBES funded project ‘Connecting Learners across diverse communities’ and worked with Indigenous students to establish collaborative relationships and engage in distance based education and learning.
Maasai Cultural Village, Maasailand, Rift Valley. Kenya
The Maasai communities in the Rift Valley near the Ngong Hills, in conjunction with UNESCO Observatory, under the guidance of Emmanuel Parsimei (Director of MACCONET) and architect Bryan Cush provided concept designs for a Cultural Village comprised of a complex of facilities. Facilities will complement the heritage, crafts, traditions and skills of the Maasai people as well as extend vocational learning opportunities.
A series of documentary films about this community were produced by Creative Cowboy Films. The films were one of three finalists in the United Nations association media awards for online media and provide outstanding educational resource material. See the films below:
- Women at Work and Women at Home
- Enkang Life
- Changing Times
- Food and Celebration
- Keeping Knowledge
- Birds Sing and Lions Roar
Gichocho School and Cultural Facilities design, Gichocho, Kenya
University of Melbourne students in collaboration with the UNESCO Observatory and Global Aid Partnerships Australia (GAPS) and the local Gichocho church and school developed and finalised concept designs for an arts and health services and a vocational training centre.
The Torres Strait – Mua Island
Projects that took place in the Cook Islands and Torres Strait Islands preceded the Cultural Village Program and provided an important background to developing the program. Architecture students visited Moa Island in the Torres Strait. The Mualgal people educated students on local cultures and how the new design of an eco‐tourism resort would serve the community. Student design plans were presented and the Mualgal community then directed revision of the design plans.
The objective was to design the Ministry of Education building in Rarotonga. Faculty of Architecture students at The University of Melbourne provided comprehensive research and designs for the trip. An affiliate in this project was the University of the South Pacific.
Papua New Guinea Cultural Villages outside Lae and Ilahita
Cultural Villages in these regions are aimed at providing facilities for vocational training, cultural education, health services and education, and promoting eco‐tourism. In partnership with Design and Build, architecture students from across Australia built a health centre outside Lae, PNG. At Ilahita, the community has initiated and built a community accommodation centre and are supporting a village development plan and cultural infrastructure whilst maintaining the best heritage characteristics that have defined their past. The overall design reflects the social mores of Melanesian culture in a modern and evolving setting.
UNESCO works to create the conditions for dialogue among civilizations, cultures and peoples, based upon respect for commonly shared values. It is through this dialogue that the world can achieve global visions of sustainable development encompassing the observance of human rights, mutual respect and the alleviation of poverty, all of which are at the heart of UNESCO's mission and activities.
UNESCO’s mission is to contribute to the building of peace, the eradication of poverty, sustainable development and intercultural dialogue through education, the sciences, culture, communication and information. UNESCO focuses on the following overarching objectives:
- Attaining quality education for all and lifelong learning
- Mobilizing science knowledge and policy for sustainable development
- Addressing emerging social and ethical challenges
- Fostering cultural diversity, intercultural dialogue and a culture of peace
- Building inclusive knowledge societies through information and communication
For more details, please visit UNESCO's main website
Arts Education initiatives
UNESCO’s aims for arts education are by and large contained within two documents, the Road Map for Arts Education and the Seoul Agenda. These policies open the door for member countries to act upon UNESCO’s global call to arts education.
Based on deliberations during and after the World Conference on Arts Education, which took place from 6 to 9 March 2006 in Lisbon, Portugal, the “Road Map for Arts Education” aims to explore the role of Arts Education in meeting the need for creativity and cultural awareness in the 21st Century, and places emphasis on the strategies required to introduce or promote Arts Education in the learning environment.
The Seoul Agenda: Goals for the Development of Arts Education is a major outcome of UNESCO’s Second World Conference on Arts Education held in Seoul, the Republic of Korea, on 25 – 28 May 2010. The Seoul Agenda: Goals for the Development of Arts Education reflects the conviction of the IAC members and the experts participating in the Conference that arts education has an important role to play in the constructive transformation of educational systems
One of the main recommendations that came out of the "Measuring the Impact of Arts in Education" symposium (Hong Kong, 2004) was that UNESCO act as an advocate for the reform of educational systems by establishing a region-wide network of clearinghouses, or “Observatories,” at selected institutions throughout the region.
Following this recommendation, the Office of the UNESCO Regional Adviser for Culture in Asia and the Pacific produced a document titled “Asia-Pacific Action Plan” (PDF, 271 KB) which describes a strategy to set up a series of Arts Education Observatories in the Asia-Pacific region.
The Observatories are intended to collect, analyse, repackage and disseminate information about Arts Education and thereby facilitate knowledge sharing within the region. In the long-term these Observatories will be the basis for informed processes of advocacy for mainstreaming the arts and culture in Asian education.
As a result of one of the main recommendations from the "Measuring the Impact of Arts in Education" symposium (Hong Kong, 2004), UNESCO has established a network of 6 Arts in Education Observatories hosted by 6 institutions across the Asia-Pacific region. These are (in chronological order):
- 2006 – Australia: The University of Melbourne (initially through the Faculty of Architecture, Building and Planning; currently through the Melbourne School of Graduate Education)
- 2007 – New Zealand: University of Canterbury, National Centre for Research in Music Education and Sound Arts (MERC), College of Arts
- 2008 – Singapore: National Institute of Education, Centre for Arts Research in Education (CARE)
- 2010 – Kazakhstan: Almaty Kasteyev's School of Fine Arts and Technical Design
- 2010 – Republic of Korea: Korea Arts and Culture Education Service (KACES)
- 2011 – Hong Kong: The UNESCO-RLCCE Observatory for Research in Local Cultures and Creativity in Education (RLCCE)