- Focuses on the development of arts practice in the context of the climate crisis
- Suitable for practitioners from any artform or creative discipline, including dancers/choreographers, musicians, story tellers, fine artists, installation artists, sound artists, architects and land artists, and those who see living and being as an art practice.
MA: 1 year FT, 2 years PT.
Other routes are available – see ‘Learning Pathways’
start date: April
full Term dates
Term 1: Monday 25 April 2022 – Sunday 16 June (Intensive: April 25 – May 5)
Term 2: Tuesday 5 July – Thursday 25 August 2022 (Intensive: July 5 – July 15)
Term 3: Monday, September 12 – Thursday, November 3 2022 (Intensive: September 12 – September 22)
Term 4: Monday, November 21 2022 – Thursday, January 26 2023 (includes 3-day on-site assessment of Module 3 work, November 21-23)
Term 5 – Major Project/Dissertation: Monday 30 January – Thursday 23 March
Contact us for details of part-time programme patterns and deadlines.
Onsite Teaching Dates TBC
An online version of this course is available – see ‘Learning Pathways’, below
next application deadline
All upcoming application and decision deadlines can be found here.
Some qualifications are offered part-time – these are indicated below. Please note that we do not offer online-only pathways for this course.
To get the most out of their course and of being part of our learning community, many students choose a fully immersive experience for the residential taught periods of their course, staying on our stunning 1,200 campus on the banks of the River Dart with full board accommodation.
MAster's (ft/pt; 180 credits)
A full-time (1 year) or part-time programme (2 years) with 4 x 30 credit modules and 1 x 60 credit dissertation or major project module. The taught (30 credit) modules are six weeks’ long. Teaching at Dartington is concentrated into two-week periods for each of the first four modules, with supported e-learning and independent learning inbetween.
MFA (ft/pt; Master's plus further study)
The MFA option involves a further 60 credits of study resulting in a significant, self initiated public outcome, performance, exhibition or publication. Participants will be drawn from our own MA programmes as well as those from other institutions.
Postgraduate Diploma (ft/pt; 120 credits)
A full-time (1 year) or part-time programme (2 years) with 4 x 30 credit modules. Students taking the full-time option will study all four modules during the first two terms. For full details on part-time pathways, please contact us.
Postgraduate Certificate (60 credits)
A full-time programme with 2 x 30 credit modules. Students will study both modules during term one.
First module only (30 credits)
To apply for the accredited single module option, apply in the usual way, selecting the ‘Module One’ option during the application process.
The MFA Arts and Ecology programme is designed for practitioners with an established practice, for artists working in any art form and for curators and producers. It aims to help these practitioners foster creative projects in the context of the climate crisis and the ecological, social, and ethical challenges we all face. The course takes a metadisciplinary approach and begins with the recognition that the world is alive and we can no longer act upon it as if it is inanimate. Through a series of themed labs utilising the interior and exterior spaces of the Dartington estate it enables students to develop their artwork.
Navigating and debating the varying definitions in this highly contested field, the programme encourages examination of arts and ecology as an academic field of practice. As well as theoretical, academic work, the programme provides an opportunity for arts practitioners to revisit and reshape their work through an ecological lens, supporting a broad range of creative forms and outputs. It encourages students to consider how creative outcomes developed on the programme can be broadcast to wide and diverse audiences. The programme is delivered through a series of practical and critical modules both in residence and through online learning.
programme structure & modules
Modules 1 and 2, and 3, run sequentially during term 1 and 2 with module 4 running concurrently but assessed at the end of term 2 this allows the modules to reflect and respond to each other. Module 5 runs for the whole of term 3 and is the final project for students exiting with an MA. For those wishing to undertake an MFA they will attend for a further 2 terms full time or 1 year part time. Below are draft modules, which are indicative only at this stage, though we hope to confirm more details soon.
Modules 1 and 2 run sequentially in term 1 (January – March) and modules 3 and 4 run sequentially in term 2 (April – June). Module 5 is a double module and runs for the whole of term 3. It is the final project for students exiting with an MA. For those wishing to undertake an MFA they will attend for a further 2 terms full time or 1 year part time.
Module 1: Introduction to Fieldwork
This module enables you to explore place-based and project-based enquiry and methods. You are reaching for a thorough understanding of how everything is connected. The module includes a foundational exploration of histories, theories, and methodologies in the field of arts and ecology. You will look at sites, systems and contexts and consider the relationship between arts and activism.
Module 2: Interdependent Systems
This module involves a deeper enquiry into the topic of interconnected systems (ecological, economic, social) and how they weave together. It moves towards metadisciplinarity and regenerative culture. You will explore how artists work in collaboration across disciplinary boundaries (science, technology, engineering, economics, etc.) to find rich ways of knowing and meaning-making.
Module 3: Beyond Human
This module ranges through contemplation of species, diversity, human consciousness, the more than human, trophic cascades, resilient adaptive systems, ecological balance, symbiosis, the expanded self, interspecies dialogue, the unmarked, ecocide, and empathy. It asks what is human without a notion of separateness. It considers how these enquiries can reflect into changemaking and networked learning.
Module 4: Trajectories
This module provides support for the student’s ongoing creative practice research and development in response to ecological concerns. It provides the foundation for the development of the major project / dissertation module.
Module 5: Major Project/Dissertation
This module supports the student’s growing arts and ecology artwork. Students will devise and negotiate an appropriate and relevant personal project which will enable them to demonstrate their practical, creative, theoretical and reflective practice. Through a process of negotiated project proposal, outcomes will be agreed and can take the form of a 15,000 word dissertation interrogating arts and ecology, or a creative project in the public domain, or a combination of both (50/50). Outputs from the module will evidence the depth of development and synthesis of knowledge from the programme.
Module 6: MFA Professional Project
This module is self-initiated from the outset and prioritises individual research, conducted under supervision with identified tutors and other mentors and external advisors considered essential to the study. MFA students learn from and contribute to the delivery of the module through their interaction with peers, tutors and the wider arts and cultural community. Emphasis is placed upon independence, originality, initiative and enterprise. Teaching and learning will be complimented by the wide range of visiting lecturers (e.g. artists, curators, ecologists, choreographers, directors, philosophers, performers composers, critics, producers, etc), providing the opportunity to discuss work with renowned experts. Students will develop individual opportunities with national and/or international venues, opportunities, agencies, etc., which may also result in working independently or at distance. Culmination of the module is the production of a substantial and resolved creative outcome that will be exhibited / performed / published and assessed in an appropriate public arena.
course delivery partners
UNESCO Learning Planet, Paris
Launched by CRI and UNESCO on the 24th of January 2020 on the occasion of the International Day of Education, #LearningPlanet is a growing, global alliance of organisations committed to learning and education. Its mission is to gather players from around the world in order to identify, celebrate, enhance and scale up innovative educational solutions towards sustainable futures that ensure the respect, well-being and fulfilment of oneself, the others and the planet.
CRI (Centre for Interdisciplinary Research), Paris
CRI is co-constructing and sharing new ways of learning, teaching, conducting research and mobilizing collective intelligence in the fields of life, learning and digital sciences, in order to address the UN’s sustainable development goals (SDGs).
Cyland, St. Petersburg
Founded in 2007, CYLAND is a nonprofit organization dedicated to expanding the intersection of Art :: Tech through an annual international festival, visual exhibitions, sound art, video art, and educational programming. Over the years, CYLAND has brought together artists, curators, engineers, educators and thinkers to create amazing projects around the world.
Qualification(s) required for entry to the MA
BA (Honours) Degree: A first degree in an arts, or humanities subject. All applicants will be required to present examples of relevant work. Where the first degree is not arts or humanities-related, a portfolio of work will be required in support of the application or experience that is equivalent and demonstrates interest or track record in related field.
Other non-standard awards or experience: A willingness to engage with the field of Arts & Ecology. Candidates will be considered with prior credited learning and prior experiences subject to interview.*
Interview requirements: All applicants are required to attend an interview, either at the School or online.
*For further information please contact our admissions team at firstname.lastname@example.org.
For full details on our fees, plus information about scholarships, student loans and bursaries, click here.
Alan Boldon is a practising artist and the Managing Director of the Dartington Trust. He specialises in arts and ecology and systems thinking.
He has taught widely in higher education and was formerly Head of the School of Art, Design and Media at the University of Brighton.
Previous roles include: Associate Curator and the Head of Research at Arnolfini; Head of Arts and Ecology at Dartington College of Arts; Director of an International Arts Summer School in Luxembourg; Lecturer in Fine Art in Context at the University of the West of England. Alan has taught at and advised higher education institutions throughout the world including work at Trondheim School of Arts, University of New Mexico, Banff Centre for the Arts, LaSalle College of Art and Design, NTU Singapore, Nanyang Academy of Fine Arts, Taylor’s University Malaysia, San Francisco College of Art and Design, University of The Fjords, Icelandic Academy of the Arts. He is on the board of MIT Press Leonardo Journal. He has worked with many Arts and Design organisations on strategy including the RSA, TATE, and the Tobacco Factory.
Dr Mike Edwards is Senior Lecturer for MA Arts & Ecology. He has worked in the climate change and broader sustainability fields for much of his career.
In recent years, he has acted as Climate Change Advisor to a number of NGOs, including The Elders Foundation, where he was involved in helping support the climate change work of Gro Harlem Brundtland, Kofi Annan and President Jimmy Carter amongst others.
For the past 10 years, Mike has been the CLO (Chief Listening Officer) of Sound Matters, an organisation that is involved in soundscape restoration and sonic rewilding initiatives.
Natasha Rivett-Carnac is Curator of Arts and Ecology at Dartington School of Arts. She has been working in the arts and culture space for 20 years.
Her blog series for 1 Million Women, a campaign group of women and girls around the planet, features BBC’s The One Show reporter Lucy Seigle, London International Festival of Theatre founder, Lucy Neil, and others. As a founding producer and later Curator of Narratives at Outrage + Optimism, a weekly podcast co-hosted by Christiana Figuerres, Natasha has been at the forefront of communicating climate change and integrating it with arts and culture. It is the most widely listened to climate change podcast, topping the UK Politics podcast charts twice. It has been selected as the number 10 All-Time Podcasts on the Apple UK Charts, been the number 3 Politics Podcast on Apple Australia Charts and was listed at number 15 of The Guardian Best Podcasts of 2019. Outrage + Optimism was selected as the News & Politics Podcast Honoree in the prestigious 2020 Webby Awards. Natasha is also the coowner of Hallalen, an 8 acre re-wilding project in Devon, UK. Her current writing draws heavily from this project and includes themes around land observation, phenomenology, ecology, and place-based learning. She lives in Devon with her husband, son and daughter.
Tom Rivett-Carnac is Associate Faculty for MFA Arts and Ecology at Dartington School of Arts. He s a political lobbyist for the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change and an author on climate change policy.
Gediminas and Nomeda Urbonas
Gediminas and Nomeda Urbonas are Associate Faculty for MFA Arts and Ecology. Urbonas Studio have an interdisciplinary research practice that facilitates exchange amongst diverse nodes of knowledge production and artistic practice in pursuit of projects that transform civic spaces and collective imaginaries.Read More
They have exhibited internationally including the São Paulo (twice), Berlin, Moscow (twice), Lyon, Gwangju, Busan, Taipei Biennales, Folkestone Triennial – and Manifesta and Documenta exhibitions – among numerous other international shows, including a solo show at the Venice Biennale and MACBA in Barcelona. Their awards include the Lithuanian National Prize (2007); Best International Artist at the Gwangju Biennale (2006) and best national pavilion at the Venice Biennale (2007). They are co-founders of the JUTEMPUS interdisciplinary art program (1993), the first independent artist-led initiative in Lithuania.
Their writing on artistic research as a form of intervention into social and political crisis was published in Devices for Action (MACBA, 2008) and Villa Lituania (Sternberg, 2008). Urbonas co-edited Public Space? Lost and Found (MIT Press, 2017) that brings together artists, planners, theorists and art historians in an examination of the complex inter-relations between the creation and uses of public space and the role played by public art. Urbonas’s five-year research project Zooetics explored the potential to connect with the noetics and poetics of non-human life in the context of planetary ecological imbalance. Zooetics concluded in 2018 with a symposium at MIT and opened a new research program focusing on Climate Visions. They curated the Swamp School – a future learning environment at the 16th Venice Architecture Biennale 2018. The book Swamps and the New Imagination: On the Future of Cohabitation in Art, Architecture and Philosophy published by Sternberg Press and distributed by MIT Press, is forthcoming in 2020.
Gediminas Urbonas is currently Associate Professor at MIT‘s Program in Art, Culture and Technology in Cambridge, Massachusetts and has held teaching positions at NTNU – Norwegian University for Science and Technology (2005-2009), VDU – Vytautas Magnus University in Kaunas, CAFA – Central Academy of Fine Art in Beijing, and NABA – Nuova Accademia di Belle Arte in Milano.
The arts sector is increasingly concerned with the issues stemming from the climate crisis. This course will give creative practitioners deep, practical and long-lasting understanding of the issues facing the sector and ways to develop your own practice along these lines with real projects in mind.
live chats & open days
latest news & blogs
The Rewilding Britain Landscape garden which has just won top prize at the Chelsea Flower Show includes field recordings of beavers and the natural environment made by our Arts & Ecology lecturer Mike Edwards.
Next up in our rolling series of focus pieces on alumni of Dartington is Eva Bakkeslett, an artist, filmmaker, cultural activist and curator who studied Arts and Ecology at Dartington College of Arts.
We’re turning over an acre of land right in the middle of the Dartington estate to artists, giving space for living art projects that work in collaboration with the biodiverse ecosystem here.
Top image credit: Nomeda & Gediminas Urbonas. Mycomorph Lab. Psychotropic House: Zooetics Pavilion of Ballardian Technologies. Installation detail. XII Baltic Triennial, CAC Vilnius, 2015. Photograph by Giedrius Ilgūnas.