Frequently asked questions about the Culture, Policy and Management Programme
The programme has been redesigned with two semesters of in-depth study in an elective subject and with a clearer focus on cultural policy and conservation. Why?
The Culture, Policy and Management Programme is based on Cultural Studies generally, with a focus on cultural policy and cultural heritage. Two semesters are devoted to in-depth study of a field, namely Film Studies, History, History of Ideas, Art History and Visual Studies or Political Science. Such a feature had been requested in course evaluations and we believe that the quality of the programme is increased by giving students the opportunity to take an elective subject that is relevant to the particular area of Cultural Studies they wish to pursue as well as providing a greater understanding of students’ intended field of employment.
The national goals and directives of current cultural policy have a direct impact on all cultural activities. For that reason, cultural policy is an important part of the Cultural Studies curriculum, with the aim of educating students about the culture industry. Subjects concerning cultural policy are now more clearly connected during the course of the programme, although the concept of culture and culture as a field is also analysed from other perspectives. Previously, a course about cultural policy of 7.5 ECTS was taken at the end of Semester 2. Now we start directly in Semester 1 with two 7.5 ECTS courses on cultural policy: the first concerned with the theory of cultural policy, the second with cultural policy in practice. These first two modules set the direction of the programme's subsequent modules. Cultural conservation has become a more visible part of the course content because of increased interest in international research in cultural heritage in the humanities and social sciences and because it is a recurring issue in cultural policy and in cultural policy documents. Cultural conservation functions as a commercial activity in cultural and creative fields, and is often carried out as a result of the cultural policies in place at the time. On the other hand, questions about the social and academic construction of cultural heritage are inherently ideological.
How do these changes better meet the demands of the cultural sector and what are those needs at present?
It is important to keep abreast of policy changes affecting the cultural sector and to adapt accordingly. This is especially important because funding practices for cultural activities and cultural conservation work usually flow from current policy. The demands of the cultural sector in this regard are now better met in the Culture, Policy and Management Programme given the increased focus on cultural policy after the redesign. At the same time, we always seek to foster the desire among students to achieve a high level of competence in their subject specialisation.
A popular image of the cultural sector is that it is a difficult area in which to get a job. In what ways does the redesigned programme manage existing competition? And how competitive are graduates in the marketplace?
The report by the Swedish Confederation of Professional Associations (SACO), "Future Outlook - Labour Market for Academics 2021" (2016) describes the museum and culture sector as follows: "The number of graduates [...] has long exceeded the number of jobs. New graduates often start their careers by spending several years in temporary employment. [---] The labour market is characterised by scarce resources and many initiatives take the form of projects. The competition for permanent employment is tough. "
It is true that the cultural industry is a tough industry inasmuch as there is a shortage of fixed services and it often involves time-limited project-style appointments. However, as investigations about the field showed, the cultural sector, despite its forms of employment, is in great need of skilled labour. In addition, the Programme is not specifically focused on services in the museum sector, which is only a small part of the entire cultural sector and too small a sector to justify dedicated programme education. Completing the redesigned Culture, Policy and Management Programme at Karlstad University means that you will have a greater degree of knowledge about the current conditions in the cultural sector, greater insight into the functioning of cultural systems and a greater competitiveness than if you had completed a programme without a focus on cultural policy. Our programme also includes several hands-on courses which directly address the need for skills in the cultural sector. In this way, the programme here at KAU is better oriented toward vocational preparedness than many other comparable programmes. Such programmes may consist of shorter courses in unrelated humanities subjects and are not always geared towards the workplace of the cultural sector of the future. That model is now out-of-date as it is not adequate to prepare students for the occupational realities they will encounter when they come to work in the culture industry.
The labour market situation within the culture sector is not unique. It can be compared, for example, with the system of appointments and temporary employment in institutions of higher education and universities. These employment markets are similar in the sense that once one has got a foot in the door one would like to stay there thanks to the stimulating work and the opportunities to develop, along with a wide contact network which usually opens new doors. In other words, the sector for which we are training is an exciting one indeed!