WHAT IS THE UNIVERSITY OF THE UNDERGROUND?
The University of the Underground was founded in February 2017, as a charity with a ANBI status (RSIN 8575.82.781), with the purpose of creating a global engagement with society as a whole, bringing generations together, to democratise access to public institutions and trigger changes and critical reflections through the use of creative, experiential and design practices. With an explicit focus on social dreaming, critical design, social actions, politics, theatrical practices, film, music and experiential practices; it aims to provide toolkits for members of the public to actively participate in revealing power structures in institutions. The University of the Underground supports unconventional research and practices that apprehend and challenge the formulation of culture, the manufacture and commodities of knowledge. The University of the Underground believes in a transnational form of education, which goes across borders and beyond nation-states. We are based in Amsterdam but we are nurturing other tuition-free global initiatives.
UNIVERSITY OF THE UNDERGROUND’S MISSION
The University of the Underground lives in the underground within a hidden network of urban spaces. As for Plato’s allegory of the cave, we are a place-routed in the basement of urban spaces-for critical reflection and creative practices that actively question the commodities of knowledge, power and politics. We support the non-established, non-linear, and unconventional practices. In the University of the Underground, theatre of cruelties and musical concerts are celebrated as we manufacture radios, pirates utopias and experiences for power shifts.
The University of the Underground was founded to reinvigorate creative education. Our mission is threefold: We aim to support diversity in leadership by offering free education to the next generation of creatives. We aim to maintain and cultivate countercultures that will reactivate the public’s engagement with democratic institutions and their plausible futures. We aim to define new models of education and cultural endeavors that will spread across borders, beyond nation-states. In short, the University of the Underground exists to show young creatives and beyond how to engineer situations, design experiences, and ignite social change in institutions and governments. We believe in the freedom of learning but also we believe that education should be free to students. We are experimenting with models in order to achieve this.
WHAT IS THE MASTER DESIGN OF EXPERIENCES?
The University of the Underground currently provides an accredited full time Master of the Arts (MA Design of Experiences) in Design of Experiences in collaboration with the Sandberg Instituut. The Sandberg’s Instituut is the postgraduate programme of the Gerrit Rietveld Academie in Amsterdam. We take 15 students every two years for classes in Amsterdam and London (to start with). The applications are now closed for 2017-2019. The University of the Underground responds to the current trend of increased fees for postgraduate programmes by firstly proposing a model in which students are invited to receive a scholarship from the University of the Underground charity (RSIN 8575.82.781), to cover their tuition fees.
The curriculum is concerned with a contemporary and strategic foresight implying politics, sustainability, institutions, new technologies and scientific developments both in Artificial Intelligence and in the current digital ecosystems. It makes innovative use of design, linguistic, experiential, political, musical and film practices as tools to engage members of the public with the experiences and the debates created. The University of the Underground is located in Amsterdam under the night club De Marktkantine and in London at the nightclub the Village Underground. Students have access to the basement of the nightclub but also have access to the Sandberg Instituut and Rietveld Academy’s facilities. The University of the Underground is established as a charity in Amsterdam (ANBI Status), composed of a multidisciplinary international team as part of its advisory board, guest tutors and teaching team.
The board of the University of the Underground is composed of professionals such as MOMA Senior Design curator Paola Antonelli, co-director of the Serpentine Gallery Hans Ulrich Obrist, WeTransfer president Damian Bradfield, intellectual activist Prof. Noam Chomsky and Pussy Riot’s Nadezhda Andreyevna Tolokonnikova, Pentagram’s partner Michael Bierut and Paula Scher, and award-winning author Dave Eggers to name a few. Following our international recruitment, we have selected 15 students out of 187 applications from 40 different nationalities to start in September 2017
WHY IS IT MOST URGENT?
In the University of the Underground, we believe that it is most urgent to equip young designers with the learning that allows them to use their knowledge of the material world within the navigation of governmental systems, institutions and power structures. We are concerned with the modelling and physical existence of students’ dreams, beliefs and myths. We believe in social dreaming becoming the fuel for social actions. Through our curriculum and the research and creative methodologies taught, we wish to democratize the experience of the institution. If nothing else, experiences and events make you feel alive and connected to the world around you. Music can do just that, but many other art forms too, and it is within this realm that we experiment within the MA Design of Experiences at the University of the Underground.
Students have rarely before been finally provided with the tools and means to learn to understand their professions as the increasingly multi-faceted and malleable role it assumes in today’s world (which is ever changing and disorienting) – where designers enter the realm of authors, directors, politicians, planners, dreamers, activists, mythologists and musicians. We encourage students to use their own voice, style, tone and aesthetics as manifested in final outcomes of performative product scenarios, products embedded in the context of the built environment and the institutions.
WHO IS ENCOURAGED TO APPLY?
The MA Design of Experiences is composed of creative soldiers, pirates, hidden creative agents of change, the Willy Wonkas of modern times, the contemporary Velvet Underground’s, The Smiths’ and the Joy Division’s, action researchers and designers, mythologists and makers of new worlds, living below ground in the underground and connected above while surveying from space.
As such The University of the Underground is looking for bold, hard-working, passionate and engaged students ready to jump on the rollercoaster and to experiment with various teaching disciplines in order to develop meaningful unexpected experiences in an institution. We encourage our students to challenge the rules of design by developing a performative, political and hybrid critical design practice with an existential attitude.