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Lesson 2: Introduction to socially engaged art for inclusive communities

Contributors: Satu Miettinen, Melanie Sarantou, Mirja Hiltunen, Maria Huhmarniemi, Amna Qureshi – University of Lapland, Finland


SEA can facilitate collaboration and integration, for example in multicultural communities, or those experiencing cultural, economic or social tensions. Integration of disparate communities can be facilitated through the arts, providing spaces for new encounters and interactions. This lesson will introduce learners to approaches used in SEA. Two examples of SEA from the Lapland region in Finland, specifically in Rovaniemi, will be presented. The artistic experiments Love Talks and Flag illustrate interactions with groups who experienced life on the fringes of society in Rovaniemi.

Learning outcomes:

This lesson will provide learners with knowledge of the principles and theories applicable to SEA, including community arts, dialogical and pedagogical orientations of the arts. Learners will draw from the two mentioned example of SEA to familiarise themselves with SEA production to enhance inclusiveness and integration in multicultural communities. Learners will learn how the arts can be used in different context and as means to promote inclusive communities through creative and reflective practices and the sharing of knowledge.

The successful completion of this course will enable participants to:

  1. Define SEA and explain how art as a collective practice can enable communities to examine difficult or controversial issues.
  2. Explicate the role of and need for documentation in SEA practices and interventions.
  3. Explore how the arts can facilitate entering into new and unfamiliar territories to enable spaces (or microcosms) in which understanding among diverse communities or individuals may come about.
  4. Interpret how the arts can be used as a critical tool to shape belief systems in societies.
  5. Explore how societal norms can be expressed and evaluated through the arts.

Reflect, by drawing from the two examples provided, on the role of the arts in driving social change and facilitate inclusiveness in societies.


    This lesson is based on self-study, guided by videos, reading and a multiple-choice quiz. Listed below are the 4 units of the lesson with further divisions within the units.  

    Unit 1: An Overview of Socially Engaged Arts (SEA)
    SEA Defined
    Who Is Suzanne Lacy?
    What are the challenges and criticisms faced by the SEA?

    Unit 2: Case Studies of SEA
    SEA Case Study 1: Rakkaustalkoot (Love Talks)        
    SEA Case Study 2: FLAG (The Shared Horizon)
    SEA Case Study 3: Five Salmon and Two Fish (Viisi Lohta ja Kaksi Kalaa)

    Unit 3: Generating Impact Through
    Working with Communities
    The Role of Research in Producing Evidence for Impact Generated through SEA Projects
    Documenting Evidence for SEA

    Unit 4: