On 15 January, 12 students from Audencia Business School’s MSc in Management and Entrepreneurship in the Creative Economy (MECE) programme travelled to The Glasgow School of Art (GSA) Creative Campus in the Scottish Highlands to begin International Winter School, a two-week, intensive and immersive experience that brings together design practitioners, students and scholars from all over the world.
International Winter School is part of a core MECE module entitled Designing Research, which this year centred on the theme of “Researching Contemporary Interpretations of Heritage”. Inspired by the 2018 European Year of Cultural Heritage campaign in the EU, the course aims to familiarise students with design research methods while teaching them about the human side of heritage – its diverse interpretations and manifestations. And as an added bonus, they learn in and about a historic and beautiful community: the ancient burgh of Forres, situated on Scotland’s Moray coast.
In its second year after a successful first run in 2017 on the brand new Creative Campus, International Winter School epitomises the innovative approach of Audencia’s MECE programme. It combines hands-on work in the local community with classroom collaboration, faculty member tutorials and guest lecturers. The culmination of the course is a research project in which students develop a design brief for a local creative event, exhibition or experience promoting heritage. Students began their research at Audencia’s campus in Nantes, and in International Winter School continued the process with site visits, meetings with local stakeholders, and workshops with professors and colleagues. At the end of the two weeks, students presented their vision to the International Winter School as well as their local business partners.
“International Winter School is an opportunity to do something that is fundamentally different,” explains Dr Gordon Hush, director of the Innovation School at the GSA. “We’re actually engaging with communities; we’re engaging with real people and we’re doing it in an international context.”
This year’s International Winter School was a special experience for all involved. During their stay, students visited the Falconer Museum, which showcases the social and natural history of the area, as well as the Forres Heritage Trust, where they learned about the fascinating history and culture of the former royal burgh.
Students also heard lectures by professionals in design and creative industry. One was David Freer, a Glasgow-based graphic designer, who spoke about his experience designing Scotland’s new bank notes. Also presenting was Kressana Aigner, director of the Findhorn Bay Arts association in the Moray area, who spoke on the importance of the arts in rural communities. On social media, MECE students noted that Aigner offered valuable “insights on how the association is nurturing the creative economy from and with people in Moray.”
International Winter School makes up a vital component of students’ yearlong MECE programme. They learn strategies for design research and methodology that will help them in their future careers while also growing their networks of like-minded professionals. But perhaps most importantly, they learn how to co-design with people across cultures, to ask questions, and to listen to and understand the needs and idiosyncrasies of a community, a vital skill in the creative and cultural industries. They also experience the creative busyness of design studios.
As Dr Catherine Morel, associate professor of marketing and head of the MECE programme at Audencia, explains, the International Winter School atmosphere allows students to fully inhabit their creative and innovative potential. “Students have the space to think, to create,” she says. “It’s a marvellous place to be.”
For more information on Audencia’s MSc in Management and Entrepreneurship in the Creative Economy (including International Winter School), check out our programme page.