Professional Reality Development

A mission statement of sorts.

Precursory notes:

‘Professional Reality Development’ is a module currently being piloted at Brighton University, in essence it is an attempt to provide a space for discussion between students, lecturers and outsiders about the nature of life after University, within the existing institution.

The program is a first step towards renegotiating the shape that career advice and ‘professional development’ should take in a world with diminishing opportunities and non-existent career paths. After the initial pilot phase of the program it is hoped that it can be shared and rolled out to other universities throughout the UK. It should be noted that this is focused on an art school perspective but it’s not my intention to limit its scope, rather to focus on a specific context on a case by case basis.

In relaying the goals, process and experience of developing this program to EdgeRyders, I hope that I will find others with similar aims with which I can share material produced and engage in a wider conversation. The text below was the initial introduction for the program provided to students and staff, hopefully this will provide a clear view by which to engage those reading on EdgeRyders.

Our Aim, Our Future.

We are living through exceptionally precarious and uncertain times, with current 16-24 year old unemployment figures exceeding record highs of 1.6 million and 1 in 5 recent graduates unable to find work. This is a situation with little hope for improvement in the coming years. Graduating in 2012 will undoubtedly be an exceptionally disheartening and grim experience for most young people.

“The Lost Generation” or “The graduate with no future” have become commonplace terms for news reports and articles to characterise the gloomy prospects for those graduating today. However this projected future, presents at times a distorted and disempowering reality for young people and demonstrates in many ways a misrepresentation of the activities and work many are engaged and committed to. Whilst it is true that this generation is unlikely to be as economically prosperous as their parents generation, this isn’t necessarily reflective of a lack of productivity and creativity but rather a lack of visibility for how recent graduates have continued to work during recession.  

The goal of this program is to address the fundamental issues of graduating into this new economic reality, by confronting the ‘professional’ context of the art world and its outer edges, the program will draw on the experiences of a group of individuals who have taken original and self initiated routes in developing a ‘career’. The primary aim will be to empower students to forge their own trajectory and to identify the core values in their personal skill set for establishing a sustainable form of living.

Together we will work to define what a practice or career can be outside of University life. Facilitated through open discussion, original research and working towards a self governed social network for students to communicate and build bridges with recent graduates and society at large.

In considering a shift from classic Fordist labour practices to a Post-Fordist economy, we will scrutinise the value of present skill sets developed in art school education for life beyond university. Art School education has come to offer a unique opportunity inside of contemporary institutions for self initiated work, creativity and research on the subjects that individuals define as important to them.

With this in mind there will be a heavy focus on the nuts and bolts and practical application of a self sustaining practice and how to extend this skill set outside of education. Individual speakers will present their experience of forming collectives, constructing and financing live/work spaces and the day to day running of a portfolio based career. With a diverse set of speakers, from startup entrepreneurs through to independent curators and self financed artist collectives, the weekly series will present a comprehensive approach to navigating the new world of work.

Progress can be tracked here: 

Maybe I can help?

Actually, Ben, there are people on Egderyders who are working on this issue:

Bridget has a very fresh approach to education, but she is concentrated on primary education. Others, I am sure, will follow.

It would be interesting to start a conversation to try to get to a general view on what is really going on here. Education is one of those themes in which policy can play an important part. So, if you guys compare notes, this would double up as valuable input to European policy makers…

Thanks for making the connection Alberto :slight_smile:

Any time, man


How good to see you here, Mr. Vickers

So I have a couple of questions.

And these are things on my own mind, for which you are the foil, rather than questioning your work, if you see what I mean.

So it’s occurred to me that the #Collapsonomics thing is moving towards being a little cottage industry - there’s an Opera, Collapsonomics -> toxic dreams

there’s going to be a book eventually, there’s this course we’re doing at Schumacher - but here’s the question.

Is it sustainable and/or ethical to be making a living teaching people how to manage not being able to make a living? On one hand, no doubt we’re being helpful showing people safe paths down, but on the other hand, we haven’t actually solved the problem, in a generic way - I’m not flipping burgers for a living, I’m a a consultant in an economy which is running out of burgers to flip. See what I’m saying?

I don’t have an answer to this, of course, but I thought it was a good question - it’s bothering me at the moment, for sure.

The second question is a lot more basic: how does national identity work for you? Are you British? European? Some Globalist hybrid?

Tell me more of these things, if you will.


Speaking Edgeryders language?

Dear Ben,

It seems to me that Professional Reality Development is a twin brother for Edgeryders: at least in vision. I was truly intrigued after reading the description, and wanted to learn more. I checked the website, also seen your video presenting the programme… nicely done! On my part, I promise to keep track of how it goes.

In the meantime, I’m curious as to what were peoples’ reactions when you introduce this programme, and what are those fabulous examples you are showcasing in your discussion and research meetings?

Also, what do you want to achieve at the end of the day with this? Yes, people will better understand the  possibilities to make smth with their lives, probably boost some confidence, and after that? Is it merely recognizing the real potential of this generation or something in addition to this as well? It’s the same when the Edgeryders team are asked when presenting the project: and so what… ? what after the Transition Handbook you will present? what will change?.. I’ll get back to this after hearing you first, I’m too curious!

Also, not sure if you saw this, we’re discussing learning in general and education in particular in the latest campaign:  htpp:// And there’s two missions I think you might be interested in: the first asks what skills do we really need to perform in life and the second why are we really getting an education, aside from the promise of success (social mobility and income)…?

Thanks for this,