Q&A: PXL launches cultural education degree


Marc Hermans, head of the teacher training department at PXL University College in Hasselt talks about the postgraduate programme in cultural education

“A desirable profile”

PXL-education, the teacher training department at Hasselt’s PXL University College, has launched a postgraduate course in cultural education. According to department head Marc Hermans, the cultural sector had been asking for such a degree.

Weren’t there sufficient other degrees to meet the needs of the cultural sector?
Not at the Bachelor’s level. Cultural institutions can find graduates with Master’s degrees in arts and culture, but often those students want to become artists themselves. Degrees and courses really serving the cultural field are rare. Except for Project Kunstvakken (Project Art Courses), an optional subject in the teacher education course.

We noticed it was becoming very successful among our students. A survey conducted among cultural institutions showed that offering a postgraduate course could produce the profile they were looking for. Students could add it to their curriculum, and staff members of cultural institutions would also have the chance to improve their skills.

What courses are being offered as part of the new degree?
We selected four modules. Orientation in Culture is a general module offering a helicopter view of the policy levels responsible for culture. Cultural Education is more theoretical, while Product Development introduces students to action plans and the organisation of guided tours, workshops and so on. The module Culture and Communication was most in demand as writing attractive promotional copy is essential to attracting audiences.

Will all the courses be taught by guests who work in the cultural sector themselves?
Yes, here and on location. We will set up close collaborations with, among others, the Provincial Centre for Cultural Heritage, the Bokrijk Open Air Museum, the Gallo-Roman Museum in Tongeren and the cultural centre C-Mine in Genk.

What are the main challenges of launching such a degree?
Well, we wanted to keep enrolment fees low, but that would have required an extra effort from a field already struggling with a shortage of both time and money. [The fee is €400 for one module or €1,500 for four]. Funding from the education ministries to pay the lecturers coming from the institutions would be welcome.

We are also concerned that staff members of cultural institutions will be confronted with managers who don’t want them to take time for the programme. Going to a seminar for a few hours is much less expensive, of course. But to really professionalise the field, our postgraduate will be far more efficient.

Photo courtesy PXL University College