Nordic collaboration on developing creative teaching methods

03.07.14 | News
Biophilia is an educational tool based on the Icelandic singer Björk‘s work. It is an extensive interdisciplinary teaching project where creativity is in the foreground and the project involves Björk, as well as leading Nordic artists and scientists.

Biophilia is a large-scale teaching project that builds on extensive participation by academics, scientists, artists, teachers, and students at all academic levels. It is based on creativity as a teaching and research method, where the natural sciences, music and technology are linked together in an innovative way.

Iceland holds the presidency in the Nordic Council of Ministers in 2014 and Biophilia is one of the flagship projects of the Icelandic chairmanship.

Music and science workshops around the world

The project was developed by Björk Guðmundsdóttir, the City of Reykjavík and the University of Iceland, in connection with the release of Björk’s album Biophilia in 2011. Music and science workshops for children were held alongside Björk’s concerts at the Harpa Concert Hall in Reykjavík. Similar workshops have since been held around the world, in locations such as New York, Buenos Aires, Oslo and Tokyo.

As part of its presidency of the Nordic Council of Ministers in 2014, the Icelandic government has sought collaboration with the other Nordic countries to further develop the Biophilia teaching project. Local collaboration networks will be set up in all Nordic countries, including the Åland islands, Faroe Islands and Greenland.

Leading Nordic artists and scientists

An important milestone in the collaboration took place in May 2014, when a group of Nordic scientists, artists, academics and teachers met in Iceland to hone and refine the project, and come up with new and innovative methods to utilise in teaching.

The group is made up of Sunleif Rasmussen, one of the Faroe Islands’ leading composers; Anja C. Andersen, astrophysicist with the Dark Cosmology Centre at the Niels Bohr foundation in Denmark; Pipaluk Jörgensen, playwright and director from Greenland;  Cecilia Björck, Ph.D. in music education and senior lecturer in education at the University of Gothenburg; Esko Valtaoja, writer and professor of astronomy at the University of Turku; Alex Strömme, professor of science education at the University of Trondheim; Guðrún Geirsdóttir, chairman of the board of the University of Iceland’s Teaching Centre, and professor of education, along with Björk Guðmundsdóttir.

The work and ideas of this group will form the foundation of the Biophilia teaching education project. The project will then continue to develop in collaboration with each region, since an effort will be placed on incorporating local emphases and circumstances.

Innovation and transformed teaching practices

The Biophilia teaching education project will be ongoing for three years. Preparation will take place in 2014, execution implementation in 2015, and review and evaluation in 2016.

The goal of the Nordic cooperation on this project is to:

  • Boost innovation in education by developing teaching methods that combine knowledge, creativity and technology,
  • Transform traditional teaching practices through an interdisciplinary approach, crossing age groups, academic subjects, and areas of expertise,
  • Develop local collaboration networks in participating countries that are connected to a Nordic forum of cooperation, and that work towards the augmenting of a Nordic functionality,
  • Develop an online collaboration forum for Nordic cooperation, without borders and for various professional groups, that will continue to be available when the project ends.