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Screenshot of the website, taken on 24.06.2022

School of Commons

School of Commons Initiative located at the Zurich University of the Arts, List of Community Members


Keywords: peer learning, collaborative and non-hierarchical knowledge production
Threads: Cooperating with(in) arts and culture, Learning

Short description

School of Commons (SoC) is an initiative dedicated to the study and development of self-directed Peer Learning, located at the Zurich University of the Arts (ZHdK). The SOC community focuses on matters surrounding the production and mediation of knowledge with a common interest in self-directed practices and on collaborative and non-hierarchical forms of knowledge production.
Research is conducted in three labs (LEARN, MAPP, and READ), all of which are run as peer-based collaborative endeavours with annually changing members.

Personal appreciation

This project/initiative seemed interesting to me because it proposes an alternative approach to academic research. The three research labs (Mapp, Learn and Read) are open to all kinds of researchers, as the application is based on the project/research idea without asking for CV or other references and application from “people with underrepresented backgrounds, including (but not limited to) BAME, female, first-gen, and LGBTQIA+ persons as well as persons with disabilities” are encouraged. The open call can be an interesting opportunity for young professionals/researchers/artists that want to experiment with alternative ways of sharing knowledge.
Nevertheless it must be noted that even if this „free and alternative“ selection process exists, most of the contributors are people with a strong academic background.

Contribution to the "Who knows?" handbook

The ways of working and producing knowledge, based on principles of self-directed, collaborative and non-hierarchical practices are the kind of initiatives we want to discover and promote in SHAKIN.
Moreover, the content of the published pieces also resonates with the issues we are sensitive to in SHAKIN as they address topics like archives, ecology, transcultural collaboration etc.


Additional Information

Location Online
Original language(s) English
Existing translations
Project runtime -
Institution of affiliation Zurich University of the Arts
Name of contributor: Sonia Nikitin

Additional Pictures

Creative Commons

This text is licensed under the Creative Commons license Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International. The link to the original material is situated at the top right of the text.

Related Contributions

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Education from below

Rijksakademie van beeldende kunsten, PEI at MACBA, and WHW Akademija


The project recognises that art practices can dislocate the usual hierarchies of what should or should not be learned and that knowledge does not have to be based on accumulation, but rather on sharing and mutual learning.

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Training program




A learning program that promotes artistic practices coming from street culture and whose common point is to declare themselves self-taught, based on pedagogical methods that use the body, the relationship to origins and peer learning.