Embodied making and learning (EMAL)

Ulike håndarbeidsprosesser.

I forskergruppen EMAL studerer vi menneskets skapende og deltakende møter med materialer i verden i dag. Dette beskriver vi som en praksis: embodied making.

The human being has always made objects, meanings and expressions through transforming materials. The ability to make better materials and objects is a condition for survival. This ability to make tools, to communicate and express ideas through materials and to make beautiful things, has a fundamental influence on the development of human kind: The link between the development of motoric skills and the sequential understanding needed to execute the right actions in right time has probably been an important factor in the development of the brain. Participating in making practices is central for learning and change.

The ambition of this group is to expand current knowledge on embodied making, and understand which role this practice has for individuals and for the social and cultural environment today; why this practice is important for many; and what – if anything – we lose if we no longer engage in embodied making. The purpose of this knowledge is to contribute to education, teaching and learning, in embodied making.

The post-industrialized western society has other demands of individuals making skills than only a few years ago. The educational system has long been influenced by the western philosophical tradition’s separation between body and mind. In EMAL mind and body is regarded as an embodied unity. We intend to develop a scientific research base on which politicians can make solid educational political choices.

Two main areas for inquiry:

- The present basis for embodied making

- The practical consequences of this basis

Two perspectives into these areas:

- An aesthetic perspective (both in the sense aesthetic as sensitive experience and as subject areas), thus more specific than studies of body and meaning in a broad perspective on movement.

- An educational perspective (which consequences embodied making has for change, learning and teaching of children, or adults), as opposed to for example a social sciences- or culture theoretical perspective.

As the research area of EMAL is interdisciplinary, a central activity in the research group is to map the possible content, key points, relations and delimitations of the area. This mapping is done parallel to the sub-group’s research projects and newly developed full-group projects.


EMAL is inter- and transdisciplinary (Nowotny, 2004; Klein, 2001) and relates to different disciplines by drawing on knowledge and methods relevant for the inquiry. Because of this, is artistic research, educational development projects and methods including an insider perspective included in the research group in addition to traditional research methods and perspectives from science, social sciences and humanities. Gibbons et al (1994) describe such approach as Mode 2 knowledge production. The approach has no limitations in which traditional disciplines that could be relevant. Nevertheless, some disciplines are more central than others:

- Disciplines within philosophy, mainly perception phenomenology and epistemology

- Disciplines within psychology and biology, mainly educational psychology and educational neuroscience

- disciplines within educational research, mainly educational research in art and craft and teacher education

- Disciplines within interdisciplinary culture studies, mainly related to USN's PhD-study in Culture studies.

Cooperating partners and network

  • Human Ingenuity Research Group (HIRG) v/ Western University, Canada http://www.edu.uwo.ca/HIRG/index.html
  • NordFo-network http://www.nordfo.org/no/
  • Researchers at Turku University, Finland; Chalmers University, University of Gothenburg, Sweden and Åbo Akademi, Finland;
  • Researchers at Oslo and Akershus University College, University of Agder, University of Oslo, NTNU, HBV, NAFOL and the National centre for art and culture in education http://kunstkultursenteret.no/

Ongoing research projects in EMAL:

Marte S. Gulliksen: Creative cognition and embodied making. (HIRG Western University, Canada.)

Ongoing PhD-projects inEMAL:

Kirstine Riis: Designkundskab. (NTNU og NAFOL)

Anne Solberg: «Scholarship and Doctorateness in the Making Disciplines» (PhD-kulturstudier v/HiT) Koblet til en internasjonal forskergruppe: Laila B. Fauske (HiOA), Fredrik Nilsson (Chalmers), Halna Dunin-Woyseth (AHO og Chalmers).

Anniken Randers-Pehrsson: Læringsrom i grunnskolefaget Kunst og håndverk (Universitetet i Oslo)

Sissel Bro: Body – Space – Movement (AHO/NTNU)