Arts-Based Research in the Social and Health Sciences: Pushing for Change with an Interdisciplinary Global Arts-Based Research Initiative




arts-based research, arts-informed research, radical imagination, social activism


The impact of current trends in technology, digitalization and mass media on our global culture raises questions regarding the responsibility and ethics of research decisions in contemporary social and health sciences. Embedded in the dominant paradigms, these trends subtly affect our worldviews, our valuation of the human condition, and the nature of socio-political discourse. In such critical post normal times (SARDAR, 2009) radical imagination (HAIVEN & KHASNABISH, 2014) and epistemic activism, embracing non-dominant modes of knowledge production in the social and health sciences, becomes a necessity. Arts-based research (ABR) is resonant with the onto-epistemological perspectives and methodologies necessary to challenge and disrupt current unilateral and hegemonic paradigms underlying decaying societal and geo-political constructs. In this article, we advocate for the development of a global network of ABR scholars and stakeholders invoking a radical imaginative philosophy and arts-based research methodologies as an approach to social activism and epistemological change.


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Author Biographies

Nancy Gerber, Florida State University

Nancy GERBER, Ph.D, ATR-BC is a registered board certified art psychotherapist and teaching faculty in the art therapy program at Florida State University, She is an associate clinical professor emerita and founding and former director of the Ph.D program in creative arts therapies at Drexel University. Dr. GERBER's research interests are in arts-based and mixed methods research, imagination in research, mechanisms of change in the arts therapies, and higher education in the arts therapies.

Elisabetta Biffi, University of MIlano-Bicocca

Elisabetta BIFFI, PhD, is associate professor in pedagogy at the Department of Human Sciences for Education, "Riccardo Massa"-University of Milano-Bicocca. Her research interests are in the rights of the child (in particular the topics related to children's voice and participation), teacher and parents training in the field of childhood protection, arts-based/arts-informed methods to educational research, pedagogical documentation.

Jacelyn Biondo, Drexel University

Jacelyn BIONDO, Ph.D, BC-DMT, LPC is a postdoctoral research fellow at Drexel University in the Department of Creative Arts in Therapies. She explores dance therapy as a short-term psychotherapeutic intervention for people in acute phases of schizophrenia to support symptom stabilization, interpersonal skill development, and experiencing a sense of community.

Marco Gemignani, Universidad Loyola Andalucía

Marco GEMIGNANI, Ph.D is associate professor of psychology at the Universidad Loyola Andalucía. He specializes in qualitative methodologies and his research concerns the intersection of discourses, narratives, and experiences related to the acculturation and integration of migrants. Working mostly from cultural studies, constructionist, discursive, and critical perspectives, through forms of participatory and community-based research, Dr. GEMIGNANI inquires about social processes and practices that create specific possibilities, subjectivities, and ontologies for migrants and minorities.

Karin Hannes, KU Leuven

Karin HANNES, Ph.D is professor at KU Leuven and specializes in the development of innovative qualitative and mixed research methods, with a particular focus on arts-based, place-based, multisensory and futuring research designs as well as qualitative evidence synthesis as a meta-review technique. Her research group actively pushes towards the development of methods and models for positive change in society, hereby focusing on transitional and transformative processes. She tests, evaluates, extents and improves existing methods, techniques, models, theories or data sets generated in fields such as urban development, the public art, design and technology sector, community-based research practice and the global sustainable development area.

Richard Siegesmund, Northern Illinois University

Richard SIEGESMUND is a former Fulbright scholar in arts-based research to The National College of Art and Design, Dublin, Ireland and KU Leuven, Belgium. He is the recipient of the American Educational Research Association's Tom Barone Award for life-time contributions to the advancement of arts-based educational research. He is an elected foundation fellow of the National Art Education Association and has received fellowships from the Getty Education Institute for the Arts and the National Endowment for the Arts.




How to Cite

Gerber, N., Biffi, E., Biondo, J., Gemignani, M., Hannes, K., & Siegesmund, R. (2020). Arts-Based Research in the Social and Health Sciences: Pushing for Change with an Interdisciplinary Global Arts-Based Research Initiative. Forum Qualitative Sozialforschung Forum: Qualitative Social Research, 21(2).