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Visualizing Women's Work: Using Art Media for Social Justice

Explore the use of art media for social justice, and investigate how public art can be used to redress historic gender bias.

677 enrolled on this course

  • Duration

    4 weeks
  • Weekly study

    3 hours

Discover the historical erasure of women’s work through social justice art

Public art has often ignored the work and legacy of minorities and women, but recently there has been a welcome reappraisal of publicly displayed visual monuments and art media.

This course dives into the artistic process, exploring how art has the power to address issues of social justice and gender equality and answer historic injustices.

Critique art history through the lens of gender

You’ll begin the course by evaluating public monuments in terms of form, content, and context, undertaking a critical analysis of art through a social justice lens.

With a focus on both the local and global picture, you’ll address the historical erasure of women’s work – compensated and uncompensated – learning about the role of gender bias in historical public art.

Examine the creative process and creative research

The course will also give you a foundation in visual literacy and interpretation, as you explore the artistic process and creative practice as a form of research.

You’ll then learn how to develop your own media-based or literary projects that respond to gender bias in public commemoration.

Examine real-world examples of social justice art projects

On the final sections of the course, you’ll identify and interpret existing art-based social justice projects in a variety of media, including site-specific work and web-based initiatives.

Learning alongside world-renowned visual and performance artist Melanie Manos, you’ll come away armed with creative and provocative ways to counter historical erasure in public art.

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What topics will you cover?

  • Foundations in visual literacy and interpretation
  • The role of research in art practices
  • Art as seen through the lens of social justice
  • Insight into gender bias as part of social justice, both socially and culturally
  • Women’s work in public visual and historical culture

Learning on this course

On every step of the course you can meet other learners, share your ideas and join in with active discussions in the comments.

What will you achieve?

By the end of the course, you‘ll be able to...

  • Describe the role of gender bias in historical public art and design and how it perpetuates cultural norms of gender inequity (e.g., definitions of "work")
  • Evaluate publicly displayed visual markers and monuments in terms of form, content, and context
  • Identify and interpret existing art-based social justice projects in a variety of media, including site/place-specific work and web-based initiatives
  • Investigate visual/aural methods for countering historical erasure
  • Develop creative strategies for responding to gender bias in public commemoration and other social justice issues

Who is the course for?

This course is designed for anyone interested in discovering how artistic media can be utilized to address issues of social justice, as well as those interested in social justice activism and/or methods of artistic responses.

This could be students and organizers that may already have a foundational interest in social justice and be involved in community organizing, formal or informal educators interested in furthering their understanding to share with others, professionals seeking to improve their knowledge in diversity, equity, and inclusion, and people just beginning their journeys in this domain.

Examples include:

  • Art and history of art students and practicing artists trying to integrate social justice into their work.
  • Learners interested in learning about gender equity and the historical erasure of women’s work in public historic and visual culture.
  • Educators interested in exploring visual literacy and gender equity education into their classrooms.

Who will you learn with?

I’m a performance + visual artist making creative disruptions that elevate the status of women and illuminate absurdities. I’m a Senior Lecturer, University of Michigan Stamps School of Art & Design.

Who developed the course?

University of Michigan

As the #1 public research university in the United States, U-M has been a leader in research, learning, and teaching for more than 200 years, with 102 Grad programs in the top 10 — U.S. News & World Report (2019).

  • Established

  • Location

    Ann Arbor, Michigan, USA
  • World ranking

    Top 30Source: Times Higher Education World University Rankings 2020

Learning on FutureLearn

Your learning, your rules

  • Courses are split into weeks, activities, and steps to help you keep track of your learning
  • Learn through a mix of bite-sized videos, long- and short-form articles, audio, and practical activities
  • Stay motivated by using the Progress page to keep track of your step completion and assessment scores

Join a global classroom

  • Experience the power of social learning, and get inspired by an international network of learners
  • Share ideas with your peers and course educators on every step of the course
  • Join the conversation by reading, @ing, liking, bookmarking, and replying to comments from others

Map your progress

  • As you work through the course, use notifications and the Progress page to guide your learning
  • Whenever you’re ready, mark each step as complete, you’re in control
  • Complete 90% of course steps and all of the assessments to earn your certificate

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