Sandberg Insituut

Notes to Future Students — Gabrielle Kennedy, Head of the Journalism Research Cell at Sandberg Instituut/Gerrit Rietveld Academie, in conversation with Public Sandberg


Research at Sandberg Instituut is research that opens the possibilities of imagination. This means that questioning dominant paradigms becomes embedded in the way we approach learning, making and creating. Imagination that is not limited to the way things are but rather to the possibilities of what could be. We conceive of the institute as a place for interdisciplinary research and cross-pollination that exceeds the confines of conventional academic disciplines. This perspective on research is grounded in a broad and encompassing practice that challenges conventional ways in which knowledges are produced. Drawing on critical pedagogy, critical making and emancipatory research, we give space to an environment that opens itself for different ways of producing and approaching knowledge. We believe in emancipatory research that does not require endorsement from institutions either academic or from civil society but research that operates independently and across disciplines driven by the needs of broad developments. No longer bound by canonical practices that dictate what is proper knowledge, we open ourselves up for the possibilities of the uncharted, those paths that have not yet been forged and do not yet have a space of institutional representation. This intentional subversion of canonical knowledge should not be confused with chaotic or non-rigorous research practices. On the contrary, we purposefully foster rigorous research from an emancipatory perspective based on principles of openness, empowerment, accountability and reciprocity. In our search for new forms of engagement with research we work through de-centering and dislocating the traditional sources of knowledge to give way to what has always been relegated to the periphery. Knowledge, then, not as a top/down resource that is transmitted through authoritative practices but as part of shared experiences where the emphasis is put in searching together rather than in uncritical dominance.


Sandberg Research enables different research cells to engage with research in their own specific methodology. The research cells at Sandberg are functioning as semi-autonomous research units and each have a specific and current topic. Each research cell initiated by Sandberg Research is run by a senior researcher who formulates their own research goals and programming. Although there is a lot of freedom in the direction of the research, there are typically two types of activities: substantive research by the senior researcher, in which applied and autonomous research has a place and the education-related activities that introduce findings from the research into education. Research cells at Sandberg Research are supported by the research coordinator and create a joined public programming throughout the year. We work in close proximity with the Lectoraat at the Rietveld Academy (LAPS), jointly developing research fellowships, publications and public events where research at the Academy is presented to the wider community. As well as the existing research activities Sandberg Research is open for new, small scale and experimental research initiatives that anticipate on the current developments and urgent matters.

Third Cycle Developments

The educational system in The Netherlands involves a trajectory that starts with a Bachelor’s program followed by a Masters and, for those who would like to enter an academic path, a PhD. For artists and students that follow a technical university education, the PhD trajectory is not always suitable for their research interests. For this reason, we have been working on the development of the Creator Doctus (CrD) a project at the Gerrit Rietveld Academie that seeks to realise a new European third cycle award for higher arts education. Next to the european cooperation to assure recognition for Creator Doctus (CrD) as a third cycle degree, Gerrit Rietveld Academie is taking part in a pilot for Professional Doctorate (PD) trajectories in The Netherlands. This pilot for third cycle trajectories has the aim to bring about innovation in (professional) practice and create a third cycle for domains with proven research qualities. By investing in professionalizing educators in HBO in the Netherlands there is also the aim to achieve an increase in level within the own framework of HBO. The new award runs parallel to the existing Doctor of Philosophy (PhD), valorising the output of artists as high-quality research that results in the creation of new insight at the forefront of art practice. The three-year research trajectory does not lead to a written dissertation, but to a collection of artistic works or projects. These provide answers to research questions formulated by the artist on the basis of a research area marked by a social partner. The first CrD pilot of Yael Davids is co-funded by Mondriaan Foundation with the Van Abbemuseum as the social partner. In the case of the second CrD pilot of Femke Herregraven, the social partner is Waag and co-funding is provided by Stimuleringsfonds Creatieve Industrie. To elaborate the Creator Doctus trajectory and assure its recognition as a degree, the Gerrit Rietveld Academie works together with Dutch and European partners, funded by an Erasmus+ grant.