Session 5A Addressing contested problems through the craft of paper-folding and the arts of writing and drawing

Professor Clive Holtham, Professor of Information Management City, University of London, The Business School (formerly Cass),

Monica Biagioli, Senior Lecturer, Design Innovation, UAL: London College of Communication


This workshop introduces an arts-based method developed from a three-year multi-continental project, involving a Global South partner, which encouraged development of new or re-purposed methods for both detailed lesson planning as well as learning design processes (Biagioli, 2019). Arts-based methods have a particular value for accessing informal, non-textual, narrative, and emotional elements and making them tangible (Belfiore and Bennett, 2008). The method is in use in education, research, administration and everyday life.

The zine method deployed in the workshop:

  • provides a near universally accessible tool, thus enabling its use in almost any nation in the world
  • uses ordinary copy paper to produce cut and folded “zines”: a multi-page DIY, often hand-drawn paper-folded format (Piepmeier, 2008).
  • provides a space for personal reflection and meaning-making that is essentially private but can also, in part be shared and be public.
  • Is suitable for both face-to-face and online workshops which address radical curriculum change. Participants online can choose to share their zine experience  via cameras, photos or discussion.

Hall (1959) deduced a system of understanding human activity in three porous layers:

  • formal (expectations, values and structures)
  • technical (values and structures shaped into more codified forms)
  • informal (where shifts can happen; the terrain of gesture, play, informal learning, and a sense of individual space and beliefs)

This activity is situated in the informal layer.

The workshop takes decolonisation as its general theme for radical curriculum change, but is applicable to any area of administration or everyday life, where proposed changes are likely to be contested. Individual participants can choose their own theme on the day.

Participants need to be briefed in advance to have an A4 piece of paper plus a cutting edge, and simple children’s drawing materials such as colour pens and pencils.

Hand-making the zine is crucially significant, firstly to create a personalisable empty container, then secondly to populate that incrementally with reflective material.


Belfiore, E. and Bennett, O. (2008). The social impact of the arts: an intellectual history. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan.

Biagioli, Monica (2019) Zine Method, pp 154-161 in Benmergui, R., Owens, A. Passila, A. (Eds.), (2019) Beyond Text: Arts Based Methods for Research, Assessment and Evaluation, Erasmus + EU: Beyond Text Partnership. eBook

Hall, E. T. (1959) The Silent Language. New York: Doubleday.

Piepmeier, Alison (2008) Why zines matter: materiality and the creation of embodied community, American Periodicals; Volume: 18 Issue: 2; pp213-238;

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