Nordic Visual Studies and Art Education

By: Siw Aldershvile Nielsen, Fotografisk Center.

I have been an intern for the last 4 months at Fotografisk Center as part of my master degree in Communication and Nordic Visual Studies and Art Education. It’s exactly the last part of my education that I want to write about.

Nordic Visual Studies and Art Education (NoVA) is an international master degree and a collaboration between the department of Visual Arts Education at Konstfack, University College of Arts, Craft and Design, Sweden; the department of Art, Design and Drama at Oslo and Akershus University College of Applied Science, Norway; the department of Art at Aalto University School of Arts, Design and Architecture, Finland;  and the department of Communication at Aalborg University, Denmark, which I belong to. All of these schools bring together a variety of methods and knowledge, which is combined together in this one education.

A big part of the education is the cross-cultural experience as each student has to study at least one semester at one of the other Nordic schools. We are hereby supposed to develop a strong intercultural understanding of each of the Nordic countries. We meet up once each semester so that we have to opportunity to visit all the different cities, here we share our experiences and are taught at the specific school. When we’re not being taught in person we continue our education through online courses with shifting educators, so that all the different institutions get the chance to share their point of view and contribute with new knowledge. Our courses have in this way had a variety of themes: Visual culture and aesthetics in digital communication and learning designs, Gamification, Critical Social issues in Art Education, and Research methodologies. The variety of courses and schools in the collaboration present the possiblity to work in an intersection between theory and practice. This has especially been one of the most positive things for me who come from a classical academic university but still has an interest in the creative and working pratical.

We are taking part in an internationally-networked community of students alongside our (at least) two teachers from each school.  I find this way of studying very interesting as we together are expanding the Nordic art education perspectice in a global context and creating a network with different teaching practices and theories. In so many ways the Nordic countries are quite similar in terms of aesthetics among other things, so it might thereby be easier for us to collaborate and put ourselves in other positions but at the same time we can learn from each other caused by our very different backgrounds. A important of the education is thereby the discussion part, where we get the chance to understand different ways of looking at visual material among other things. For me it has definitely been easier to get a broader knowledge of the other Nordic countries and all the beautiful art and visual material that is out there, when you feel like an insider and have this unique opportunity to go schools in different Nordic countries.

I hope that this education will sound interesting to some of you. The period for applying next time is as following:

Aalto University School of Arts, Design and Architecture: December the 1st , 2015 – January 15, 2016.

Konstfack, University College of Arts, Craft and Design: December the 1st , 2015 – January 15, 2016.

Aalborg University:  April 1, 2016.

Oslo and Akershus University College of Applied Science: 

Applicants from the EU/EEA-area, Switzerland and the Nordic countries: 15th ofApril.

Applicants from outside the EU/EEA-area:  1st of March.


Through my international studies I have photographed and documented a lot, and you’re welcome to have a look here.

All text and photos are copyright Siw Aldershvile Nielsen.

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