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Students collaborating with Aarhus 2017

Subject: Festival and Event Studies, Communication, Strategies, Event planning. Course title: Festivals and events: sport, art and cultural events including Aarhus2017. Level: BA. Course size: 38.

Motivation for the activity

We wanted to show the practical uses of the theories of event and festival studies. Also, it was important for us to show that the course has a practical relevance for organisations and institutions outside of Aarhus University.

Central learning outcomes for the course

  • To use a relevant strategy for a current practical project outside of the university
  • To learn how to judge limits of the students’ own analysis and make an accurate conclusion
  • To show knowledge and practical use of the literature within this particular field
  • To plan and frame a relevant methodological design in order to use theories in practice.

Outcome of the activity

The students gain experience of collaborating in groups and with institutions outside of the university. At the same time they learn to work on theories in practice, using real-life cases and to link the texts with a current cultural project.

Description of the activity

The activity span over four weeks – in which time was also spent on lecturing. The activity was planned together with project and research manager of rethinkIMPACTS 2017, Louise Ejgod. 

In preparing for the activity, the class read studies about how to create a festival, and how best to make festival-goers sense what we termed ‘a festival feeling’. The class was divided into small groups of max 5 students in each. The week before commencing the activity, each group was asked to draw a map of the primary ingredients for creating a successful festival. Finally, in preparation for the activity, the students were given a report on European Capital of Culture to read. 

Week 1

Louise visited the class. She did a one-hour guest lecture on Aarhus as European Capital of Culture. The lecture focused on the history of the European Capital of Culture programme, as well as the current plans and challenges for Aarhus 2017. After her lecture, students were given a set of challenges to help solve. The challenges included questions such as:

  • How can we evaluate and understand the participation in and experience of Aarhus 2017 as a festival for six different participating patterns accepting each of them as valid ways of taking part in Aarhus 2017?
  • Which elements in the experience would need to be examined (each group have to choose one participation profile)?
  • What are the methods appropriate for an analysis of them?
  • Focus on one of the 5 impact areas within rethinkIMPACTS 2017 and argue for the value of a ‘festival-approach’ in relation to securing positive impacts.
  • What are the recommendations for Aarhus 2017 in relation to securing the development of a festival experience in relation to the year-long event?

    Then, the students were told that Louise Ejgod would return after three weeks in order to see how they answer the different questions.

    Week 2-3

    In the following weeks, each session began with a lecture and ended with two hours for each of the groups to work on the challenge set by Louise Ejgod.

    The different groups had very different perspectives on how best to answer the questions. As this course is a HUM-course, the students came from very different academic backgrounds, meaning that the perspective and interest differed from group to group.

    By week three, we began discussing the functions of a presentation to an organization such as Rethink2017. It was stressed to the students that their presentation should be easy-to grasp and though based on academic texts it should strive to be more like an industry pitch and not be literature-heavy.

    Week 4

    Louise Ejgod returned to the class, and each group did a PowerPoint presentation illustrating how they would answer to the challenges set. The presentations were very varied, creative and inspiring.

    Outcome of the activity

    At the end of the four-week exercise it was great to see how much practical use the students had found in the theories on festivals we had studied. Also, the exercise showed the students the benefit of using each other for feedback and constructive product-discussions. The students themselves were excited to be working with a ‘real’ event and an institution outside of Aarhus University.

    Reflections on the activity

    Aarhus 2017 is a complex case to engage with which means that it is important that the practical task is formulated as simple as possible. A strong emphasis on feed back to the organisation involved is recommended. 


    Louise Ejgod Hansen

    Associate professor
    H 1580, 148
    P +4587163004
    P +4525566935

    Line Hassall Thomsen

    Part-time Lecturer