• Art-led communitas for developing improved mental health in higher education in a time of rapid change

      Prior, Ross W. (IJICC, 2018-11-30)
      Aimed at those who have a responsibility for policy and practice in relation to education, health improvement and community, this position paper explores how the corporatization of the modern university has arguably shifted how students see themselves – and how academics see students and how students see academics. Increasingly, education is being economized in an age of neo-liberalist ideology. Universities spend considerable resources on recruiting students, promoting why students should attend university but arguably spend far less on how they enable students to be effective learners. The author argues that it is time to pay attention to two key responsibilities in higher education: well-doing and well-being. However, it is argued in this paper that universities are far too focused on behavioural well-doing agendas and not sufficiently focused on experiential wellbeing of staff and students. This paper concludes that there is an urgent case for realigning higher education through acknowledging the fundamental importance of communitas – defined as “inspired fellowship” to enable human, personal, spiritual and social well-being. It is argued that universities must take seriously the mental health of their staff and students, and in so doing, the role of the arts may provide plausible answers in realigning the culture of higher education.