Photo by Dean Davies and student Kaye Lowe of a person wearing a leather and mesh chest brace, black puff sleeves, and a silver and black choker neck piece, with another person's hands in red gloves holding their face

What co-creation brings to arts degrees

UWE fashion communication senior lecturer Dean Davies shares his learnings after collaborating with students on a project, and explains why it benefits all parties

Most arts university professionals will agree that the age of the lecturer as an all-seeing, all-knowing guru has withered away. In its place is the promise of a more equal dynamic between teaching staff and the student body. Whether or not that’s proven the case across the board is for arts students to decide – but it’s the ethos that underpins senior lecturer Dean Davies’ recent project, Star Potential, which he co-created with second- and third-year students on UWE’s BA fashion communication course.

As a practising photographer, Davies has routinely invited students onto his personal and commercial projects to gain work experience as photography, production, and styling assistants, ever since he joined the lecturing staff in 2017. However, this project is the first time he’s worked with students in this way, as “equal collaborators”. He saw an opportunity to establish “new approaches to learning and development that are less passive and more aligned with what students will be doing once they graduate”, he tells us.

Photo by Dean Davies and student Hazel Matthews showing a person wearing a hood and a white strap top looking at the camera from behind another person wearing a pink, puffy cropped long-sleeve top in front of a residential road
Top: Dean Davies/Kaye Lowe; Dean Davies/Hazel Matthews