“I don’t work on weekends”: An Exhibition Project Seminar
The project seminar "I don´t work on weekends" at the University of Göttingen explored prevailing working conditions in academia with the students independently developing and curating contributions for an exhibition of the same name at Kunstverein Göttingen. Student works were installed and displayed as complementary, integrative parts of the exhibition on precarious working conditions within the art and culture sector, that took place from 21st July until 14th of August 2022. The exhibition served as the main inspiration and platform for the course and student contributions extended its scope to include employment and studying conditions at universities and research institutions, focusing on the everyday working life of young academics and students.
This close collaboration with the curator of Kunstverein Göttingen fostered open discussions, breaking the silence surrounding challenging working conditions in academia. The project seminar helped students develop diverse contributions for the exhibition on topics such as studying with children, students’ and young researchers’ anxieties, the #IchBinHanna campaign (a Germany wide campaign protesting precarious working conditions of academics), intercultural meanings of overtime, and anti-discriminatory work at universities.
- International and Interdisciplinary Perspectives
From the beginning, lecturers made sure that students worked collaboratively in teams. During the seminars, students took part in improv theatre exercises and practised sensory ethnography methods. They were required to keep a seminar diary to reflect on the development of their project, and on how they perceived the work load and cooperation within the group. They also documented obstacles they faced throughout the process. Collaborative evaluation sessions ensured a space for personal reflection and facilitated meaningful exchange between students as well as their lecturers. Additionally, concept presentations helped the groups learn about and support each other’s projects.
- Active Teaching Methodologies
The course effectively stimulated students to construct knowledge by means of authentic, practical, and relevant assignments. Initially, the students engaged with the topic of working conditions and challenges faced by early career researchers from a theoretical perspective. This was followed by interactive discussions in a plenary and within groups, enabling students to actively explore specific issues in-depth. Thereafter, students selected topics of interest and developed formats (e.g. research, archives, objects, installations, events) for their contributions to the exhibition. Regular meetings with teachers and the Kunstverein Göttingen curator, on-site visits, and active involvement in realizing exhibitions ensured the students' consistent and active engagement. The opportunity to showcase their work in a public space significantly motivated and empowered the students.
- Formative Assessments and Feedback
Feedback played a crucial role in shaping the course. Office hours were scheduled every second week for individual group discussions, addressing work progress and obstacles. Concept notes received extensive feedback from other project teams, lecturers, and the curator. The seminar closing session allowed for final feedback on the exhibition and the project. Additionally, two student installations (“Melancholie der Überstunden”, #IchBinHanna) facilitated feedback from an engaged public, using participatory elements within the exhibition space.
For the final assessment, students wrote a learning story, reflecting on their learning process using the seminar diary. This comprehensive feedback approach fostered meaningful learning experiences and encouraged continuous improvement throughout the course.
- Dr. des. Jana August:
- Prof. Dr. Daniela Döring: