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Participants learn to reflect on and master their process of learning and develop autonomy in creating strategies to manifest the needs and values they want to see in the world. Moving beyond fixed ideas about others and themselves, the programme supports in deepening awareness of what is truly alive in them. Throughout the two years of the programme, students cultivate the ability, confidence, clarity and trust to act and contribute with passion and impact. The sky is the limit.

We operate from the belief that every human being is inherently curious and has a need to learn. The process of learning is always unfolding, living is learning. We embrace learning as something deeply connected with the joy of life and something that requires care. We intent to bring about the vitality that lies in learning itself.

You do not have to be good. You do not have to walk on your knees for a hundred miles through the desert repenting. You only have to let the soft animal of your body love what it loves.
MARY OLIVER, excerpted from ‘Wild Geese’

Manifesting needs and values

At an early age, most of us in western countries have been educated to speak and think in judgements. We learned to use language to compare and classify people and their actions including ourselves and our own. Our attention became focussed on analysing and determining levels of wrongness. The use of moralistic judgements is life-alienating communication. It traps us in a world of ideas about rightness and wrongness. At home and in schools we have been educated that our whole life was dependent on how other people judged us. We have internalized these judgements; it frames the perspective through which we view the world, others and ourselves. To support us in creating awareness about and loosening the grip of this conditioning we practice Compassionate Communication.

Compassionate Communication

Compassionate Communication assumes that we all share the same, basic human needs, and that each of our actions forms a strategy to meet one or more of these needs. Once we understand and connect to the needs and values that are most alive in us, we learn to create strategies for meeting these needs in creative, authentic and joyful ways.

Immersive Learning Experiences

Immersive Learning Experiences (ILEs) are a substantial part of the programme. To help manifest their learning objectives, with the support of mentors, participants curate a series of short and long-term Immersive Learning Experiences with external partners.

During the first semester, master students start to inform themselves about the ILEs they would like to engage in. Searching for and connecting with potential places and people helps to gain more clarity about learning objectives and what it is that one feels most passionate about. Expert Visits offer the opportunity to go and meet with different practitioners in preparation for the ILE.

The ILE allows for situated learning in a real-world, complex and rich learning environment. In this way, participants do not only acquire specific skills and capabilities, but also observe the lives of people who pursue certain activities. Often, unexpected learning opportunities are met that shape the continuation of student's learning process and the engagement with their practice. During the ILEs mentor support continues to be available.

Community Engagement: always being with

Since being is always ‘being with’, in whatever situation we find ourselves in we engage with ‘others’. Sometimes ‘others’ are our best friends and our family members. Sometimes ‘others’ have entirely different value systems and cultural backgrounds than our own. We are a community of others.

As a Fashion Design (Practice Held in Common) participant, you take part in a series of Community Engagement workshop intensives in order to grow awareness of how we engage with others. Community is ever-present, and we are all part of it in some way, but we may not be aware of it. Which communities do we belong to and to which communities do we choose to be accountable to? How can we more consciously participate and contribute? How do we skilfully create an environment of care, trust, respect and mutuality in any community?


The curriculum of the Master Fashion Design (Practice Held in Common) is supporting participants to create and cultivate a creative practice from what is genuinely alive in them. The programme facilitates the development of your practice through a combination of individual and collective learning experiences, both within the programme and through engagement with external partners. Self-directedness and intrinsic motivation toward self-learning are very important in the programme. The two-year course consists of four semesters.

  • The first semester of the programme will be spend at ArtEZ in Arnhem. We offer a dynamic and engaging research environment within a supportive community. Through a combination of individual and collective experiences participants gain more clarity about the direction of their practice and learning objectives. The first semester offers time for reflection, dialogue and exchange. Together, participants engage in Reading Groups, Lectures and Workshop Intensives hosted by the programme. The Practice Plan class provides practical tools and methods to support in manifesting learning objectives. Weekly meetings with individual mentors and the Compassionate Communication class facilitate greater awareness about the motivations, gifts and talents that inspire your life and practice.

  • Starting in the second semester of the programme, each semester includes 10 to 12-week Immersive Learning Experiences. With the support of mentors, participants curate a sequence of short and or long-term learning experiences with external partners. Six weeks of every semester are dedicated to classes and mentoring in Arnhem to support the integration of your experiences and to facilitate further growth. Each semester closes with a 10-day period in which the presentation of research and practice to internal and external audiences in the Netherlands is central.

Knowledge means learning from the world, by entering into relationships with it, with others and by experiencing them. The process of learning is always unfolding, living is learning.
CLAUDIA GÓMEZ-PORTUGAL M. in Learning as an Open Road, Learning as a Commons

Research: four areas

The Fashion Design (Practice Held in Common) Master's programme is committed to developing four research areas.


With an awareness of our interdependence, how do we create our actions and activities to be of benefit to others?


How do we engage the lived experience of our identity formation as a powerful tool to question and lighten our cultural, social and economic conditioning?


Can we activate our skills and competencies to contribute to the well-being and joy of others and ourselves?


How do we, through our material practices, individually and collectively ritualize and give expression to a sensuous and intuitive experience of the world?

Practice Based Research Environments

The ArtEZ Fashion Design (Practice Held in Common) Master's programme is hosting several hands-on practice-based research projects. Participants are invited to relate their research and practice within these dynamic and rich environments of people, communities and resources.

  • The Linen Project is a joint initiative by ArtEZ master Fashion Design (Practice Held in Common) and Crafts Council Nederland. It investigates and works towards reactivating the economic viability of small-scale local flax cultivation and linen production in the Netherlands. The Linen Project’s growing community and its learning by doing approach to all stages of flax and linen production offers a fertile ground for your own research questions and practice. 

  • Take Back the Economy takes its name from the book Take Back the Economy: An Ethical Guide for Transforming Our Communities written by J. K. Gibson-Graham, Jenny Cameron and Stephen Healy, published in 2013. The project is a space dedicated to collectively re-imagining and enacting our economy towards resilient, joyful, and equitable ways of living. Together we develop the knowledge, skills, and capacities to perform and reclaim the economy as a social, ecological and cultural domain. We offer a rich and mutually supportive research environment with national and international partners.
We are less interested in producing ‘something that is ours’ than creating ‘us’. We want to understand and change ourselves.
MEMBERS of Cesosesola, Barquisimeto, Venezuela

Learning community

The ArtEZ Master Fashion Design (Practice Held in Common) programme offers a diverse and mutually supportive learning community in which participants, mentors and facilitators exchange knowledge, skills, competencies and mutual support. Together, we learn-by-doing and get inspired by others through collective dialogue and reflection. We deeply value care, trust, and safety; as a community we know that vulnerability and uncertainty are the conditions for deep learning, authentic self-expression and connection. Once we learn to practice and communicate from what is alive in us, we can more easily connect to what is alive in others. Learning for future cooperation is developed when we identify shared needs and collaborate to form effective strategies to meet them.