AUC students visit Plovdiv, Bulgaria for ‘Culture Lab’ coursework

24 June 2019

A group of 12 AUC students, led by Prof. Dr. Murray Pratt (Dean of AUC) and Dr. Pedram Dibazar (AUC lecturer and tutor), were in Bulgaria 10 - 22 June for the third edition of the AUC course “Culture Lab”.

Third edition of Culture Lab goes to Plovdiv

Following the success of the first and second editions in Cyprus and Malta in 2017 and 2018, Culture Lab once again sought to provide students with project-based and self-directed learning experiences about culture and cultural festivals, European identity-building and the role of cultural interventions in addressing issues for cities and citizens within European contexts. Each year, the course takes the annual European Capital of Culture (ECC) event, and one of its host cities (this year in Plovdiv), as its object of investigation.

Experiential learning in the European Capital of Culture

Culture Lab is a Humanities course that takes place annually in June and sees AUC students embark on an intensive study trip to one of the European Capitals of Culture for twelve days. Cities chosen for the European Capital of Culture organise multiple cultural events to highlight the uniqueness of place and history linked to the city. It is also often an opportunity to bolster the international image of a city, jump-start regeneration projects and examine what makes these cities special.

Through experiential learning, AUC students engage with a variety of cultural theories and practices, observe illustrative case studies and explore how to use cultural anthropology methodologies in the field to examine the impact of such city promotion.

Culture lab working with ECC stakeholders

During the first week of their visit, the class met with various stakeholders of the ECC, including the artistic director of the European Capital of Culture for Plovdiv, a group of social anthropologists who have formed the NGO ACEA Mediator, and local artists and researchers who are involved in developing various events of the ECC programme. The students have learned about the intended outcomes of the organisers and consider these outcomes from a variety of stakeholder perspectives, including that of local residents.

By meeting with locals, artists and other stakeholders involved in the event, students are able to gain a deeper understanding of the consequences, relevance and complexities surrounding the Plovdiv ECC event. The students also attended tours and events in order to produce a final project that analyses one of the aspects, difficulties or consequences of urban development through culture.

Read about their experiences 

All students of the Culture Lab course publish blog posts to reflect and document their experiences while in Plovdiv. Numerous blog posts are already online and you can find more information via the link below.

Published by  Amsterdam University College