The Symposium: Dialogues in Photography
Photography students tend to be individually focused in their approach to work but successful graduates, regardless of discipline, need to be effective collaborators with excellent communication skills, including public speaking. The challenge was to create opportunities to develop these skills while also fostering a sense of community amongst the students.
The BA (Hons) Photography level 2 module was developed to give the students the opportunity to work collaboratively to design, organize and deliver their own symposium in response to a given theme, as well as produce an accompanying online exhibition. The Adobe Spark presentation that was used for the briefing can be seen here.
Student-centred pedagogy was placed at the core of this module: students had complete autonomy over the topics they work on, who they collaborated with and their individual production roles. Alongside tailored support in public speaking skills the students were encouraged to present work in progress to their seminar group on a weekly basis, in preparation for speaking in front of the symposium audience. Peer and tutor feedback, as well as group discussions, were therefore embedded in weekly sessions and played a key part in the high-quality outputs that the students produced.
The symposium took place at The Collection, Lincoln on 1stMay 2019 and was a huge success. The introduction for the symposium was as follows:
“This is a visual interrogation into disruption on an environmental, social and personal level. In our fast-paced and ever-changing world, disruption is all around us in many forms. We, a collective of University of Lincoln Photography students, present a study of cultural reinvention through disruption. Our environmental world faces challenges which can only be addressed by massive changes, our social and cultural identity is driven by new technologies and our personal relationships are shaped by the digital. Where will all of this lead us?”
Students worked with this year’s Frequency Festival theme ‘DISRUPTION = CULTURAL REINVENTION’ and some of the work selected from the online exhibition was chosen to be shown at the festival this Autumn, providing students a fantastic opportunity for professional development before they graduate.
Many BA (Hons) Photography students are highly skilled visually but often struggle with expressing critical ideas in written form. Presenting research verbally and collaboratively at the symposium enabled the students to engage with critical theory in an innovative way. The symposium helped develop high level communication skills, effective collaboration and group problem solving, all of which supported the students in developing skills that will be invaluable in their future careers.
A small selection of images from the online exhibition: