Enlarging human understanding through the arts

Talk Code: 
Louise Younie and Deborah Swinglehurst
Author institutions: 
Queen Mary University London


To share examples of participatory creative enquiry activities as a ‘taster’ of the learning that is possible through this approach within both undergraduate education and postgraduate professional development. The overarching aim is to foster practitioner development and a ‘flourishing practice’.


By the end of the workshops participants will:

  • Understand how creative enquiry
    • extends reflective practice
    • enriches encountering the ‘other’ in clinical encounters
    • invites voice and interiority
  •  Be equipped with examples of creative enquiry exercises to try out in their own context (teaching, learning, personal professional development)


  • Appreciate art as a reflective mode of communication
  • Explore the arts in transformation of practice


We will set the scene for the workshop by: inviting participants to engage with insightful quotes from key thinkers in this area; to explore some philosophical underpinning; and to experience some real examples of clinician/student creative texts.

Participants will then be invited to choose one of three short creative enquiry exercises to work on individually, each exercise being designed to prompt reflection and action through an appreciation of creative work. Participants will be invited to share their work in pairs to further extend their learning. These exercises will be designed to be accessible to a diverse range of participants – from those who have no previous experience of creative enquiry to those who already have expertise in this area.

Building on this learning exercise, participants will join together in small groups around examples of creative texts, and explore strengths and weaknesses of creative enquiry approaches with some specific questions as prompts.

The workshop will introduce participants to some key sensitizing concepts such as epistemic injustice, epistemological humility, healthy self-criticism, positive organizational scholarship and the value of inviting evaluation of practice from a disconfirming stance. Through sharing of different viewing points and perspectives within the group work, participants will tease out the value of going beyond reflection towards reflexivity. 


Themes we will address include:

  • Creative enquiry extending reflective practice by:
    • reframing experiences
    • engaging with multiple perspectives
    • embracing other languages of expression
  • Creative enquiry enriching how we encounter the other by exploring
    • intersubjectivity between ‘selves’ in the clinical encounter
  • Creative enquiry inviting personal, situated ways of seeing and reflecting

Intended audience

The workshop will be relevant to:

  • educators (both undergraduate and postgraduate)
  • researchers interested in arts-based research and creative research outputs
  • clinicians who are keen to develop their own reflexive capabilities, to appreciate and celebrate their unique contribution to practice (and diminish burnout!)