Parallax Collab interviewed Nelly Ben Hayoun and featured University of the Underground in the piece ‘Dreamers of the Day’. The article explains the University’s ethos, mission and how it aims to shiftspower within institutions.

To read the whole article, follow the link Words by Parallax

Nelly Ben Hayoun’s latest, and perhaps most ambitious, project takes on models of education. The University of the Underground seeks to return vision (what its founder calls “social dreaming”) as a central mission of public institutions. Its curriculum emphasizes the importance of examining and modifying power structures in companies, organizations and public institutions and investigates why a place for unconventional research practices is crucial.

Tutors at the university are required to have experience working with governments or institutions, to be able to teach students how systems work and how they can be adapted or modified. Its mission statement reads, “The world’s first University of the Underground, based in the underground of the urban space, promotes unconventional collages of references, interdisciplinary practices, chaos and experimentations at the start of any creative process.”

The University of the Underground by working within them through partnerships, trying to reinvent higher education as a fee-less system to combat the problem of crippling student debt. All the while, it maintains the seriousness of accreditation and credentialing, ensuring students receive degrees that certify their achievements. Hayoun believes in the value of degrees, and wants students to feel that they have been fairly evaluated, and provided a set of educational aims and guidelines. The University of the Underground is hosted by its academic partner the Sandberg Instituut in Amsterdam.

Hayoun’s diverse background matters to her, and she is committed to multidisciplinary training. She has always been interested in the ways painters bring other fields into their work, mixing disciplines into one. Students will learn about particular disciplines or forms of storytelling—from film-making to theatre—and explore how they could be applied within a particular organization. Through a syllabus that works across the disciplines of design, film, theatrical practices, politics, and experience, students are equipped to operate as multidisciplinary experience designers, with critical understanding of the industries and institutions they will work within, and the socio-political context surrounding them.

“The rats don’t stay forever in the dark,” Hayoun declares. Applying a bottom-up systems approach to social transformation, the University of the Underground provides students with agency which enables them to navigate the practices and positions they encounter from a position of empowered knowledge. Students choose their own path rather than being trained in the image of their professors. This approach not only supports “creative entrepreneurship,” it encourages students to “think about themselves as decision-makers,” while bringing new ways of thinking to industries. Ultimately, she hopes her graduates will become an army of creative soldiers who are “dreamers of the day,” and, thus, “the fuel for social actions.”

“All men dream, but not equally. Those who dream by night in the dusty recesses of their minds, wake in the day to find that it was vanity: but the dreamers of the day are dangerous men, for they may act on their dreams with open eyes, to make them possible.” – T. E. Lawrence  

Training students to “dream with open eyes”and think beyond the possible focuses on problem finding rather than solving. The curriculum builds from Critical Design, a field that Nelly studied while at the Royal College of Arts under Prof. Anthony Dunne, in which students are asked to think about new technologies and discoveries, asking questions about how they operate, how they impact the public, or what problems they pose. The design of a product then intends to challenge the curiosity of its audience.”‘Product’ is a debate you can generate,” she explains, “Designing a platform for debate is the goal.”


To read the whole article, follow the link Words by Parallax

Parallax Collab is a digital & print publication fostering creative exchange between the arts & sciences based in Philadelphia, PA. With an interest in interdisciplinary collaboration and systems thinking, Parallax tracks the linkages between art, science, technology, design, and nature, observing the impact of these interconnections on contemporary culture and society. Thet are continually learning, sharing, and shaping insights, cataloguing diverse forms of creativity in search of unforeseen correlations and patterns. The stories Parallax shares are a mechanism to generate communication and knowledge-sharing across audiences, organizations, and fields to build a culture of experimentation around thought-provoking ideas.

You can find out more about Parallax on their website