Global Practice Unit (GPU) helps students to generate and realise their own projects within a structured and supportive environment. Students are able to connect their actions to their own history, experience and ethical position rather than submit to the more codified values of education, practice or a single unit. Many students see their time in the GPU as the first stage of their future practice rather than the last stage of their education and many practices have emerged from it. Self- initiated projects have included projects sited in the country where students originate from, ongoing design research projects or live projects with friends, clients or community groups.
Students in the free Unit are closely supported with us the tutors acting as partners in the project. In addition, Students are invited to identify ten project friends who support them. The unit has developed structures to support projects these include a contract and a series of drawing and making workshops. Being in the Free unit is being part of a community of practice where students share and cooperate as equals.
In addition to independent projects over the past year these principles of freedom have gone global as part of a new international network of academic partners and live project “classrooms”. This Global Practice Programme includes academic partners in the UK, South Africa, Sweden, Ireland, Russia and Korea.
So, as a member of the unit you may either initiate and define your own project or be embedded in existing project ‘classrooms’. In the coming year, these live project “classrooms” will continue have a particular emphasis on issues of migration, social justice and cohesion, scarcity and identity, building on my own work within the current refugee crises. Students choosing this option will work with staff and students from across the programme and have access to a global network of project “friends” drawn from leading academics, politicians, architects and cultural practitioners.