Volume 22 Number 8 August 16, 2021

Expanding Professional Responsibility in Arts Education: Social Innovations Paving the Way for Systems Reflexivity

Heidi Westerlund
University of the Arts Helsinki, Finland

Sari Karttunen
University of the Arts Helsinki, Finland

Kai Lehikoinen
University of the Arts Helsinki, Finland

Tuulikki Laes
University of the Arts Helsinki, Finland

Lauri Väkevä
University of the Arts Helsinki, Finland

Eeva Anttila
University of the Arts Helsinki, Finland

Citation: Westerlund, H., Karttunen, S., Lehikoinen, K., Laes, T., Väkevä, L., & Anttila, E. (2021). Expanding professional responsibility in arts education: Social innovations paving the way for systems reflexivity. International Journal of Education & the Arts, 22(8). Retrieved from http://doi.org/10.26209/ijea22n8


This article urges a reconsideration of professional responsibility in arts education, moving beyond an emphasis on narrow technical expertise and strict disciplinary boundaries in order to respond to the needs of complex late modern society. We reconsider ‘professionalism’ in arts education as a site of struggle that requires ‘systems reflexivity’ to engage in the transformation of wider society. By presenting three cases, conceptualised as social innovations in the arts education system in Finland, we illustrate how multi-professional collaboration and systems entrepreneurship, flexible institutional boundary-crossing, and performing social categories in professional education of artists help tackle exclusion and inequalities. We also argue that a degree of activism may be necessary for the field to expand its sense of professional responsibility beyond ‘what is’ towards ‘what could be’.

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