The Erasmus+ project ALIISA (“All In – International Inclusive Society in Arts”) ran from September 2020 to August 2023 and involved the mdw along with Finnish, Lithuanian, and German (arts) universities, universities of applied sciences, and music and dance schools. ALIISA was a project to develop innovative and inclusive school- and university-level arts education concepts and was aimed above all at working toward two of the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals for 2030, those of Quality Education (including music education) and Health and (social) Well-Being for All. Hanna Turunen of the Savonia University of Applied Sciences (Finland) authored the application. Above all, this project was intended to be about raising the quality of inclusive arts education as a component in the curricula of European arts-focused institutions.
These revolved around the two-semester continuing education model ALIISA Continuing Inclusive Art Education (ACIAE), designed to encompass 5 ECTS credits and feature multimodal teaching comprised of workshops, in-person teaching, small group work, online studies, peer tutoring, and occupationally related learning for enrolled students. The core element of ACIAE was conceived as a learning, teaching, and training (LTT) week. In Vienna, the Austrian edition consisted of Beate Hennenberg from the mdw’s Department of Music Education Research, Music Didactics and Elementary Music Education (IMP) and Hana Zanin, Maria Dinold, and Helga Neira from the inclusive dance association “Ich bin O.K.”, with Robert Wagner from the Fürth Music School (Germany) as an associate participant. Following the multifaceted LTT week, the students—supervised by teachers—taught a total of 45 units of instruction independently in inclusive situations. At the conclusion of these activities, the participants received a certificate.
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic lockdowns, discussions were reduced to Zoom meetings. It was challenging to hold online versions of the sensitisation workshops as well as the workshops with varied inputs pertaining to dance, music, and visual arts education in which students and artists with and without disabilities were to work together in place of the planned in-person encounters. Some of these online events took place across three countries. A positive aspect that deserves to be pointed out is that this online version enabled more students to take part in the offerings than had registered, with over 60 people online in Vienna alone.
Research as a Component of Intellectual Outputs
This project’s intellectual outputs—i.e., its concrete results—included conduct of the workshop weeks, the country-specific continuing education model’s development, the syllabus, the transnational meetings and multiplier events, and two instances of empirical research. The first of these consisted in a qualitative focus group discussion with students conducted by Diana Straksiene and Edita Muskiene of the Vilnius University Šiauliai Academy (Lithuania), with the evaluation of this discussion feeding into development of the concepts for the project’s second half. Valences were assigned to the usefulness of the professionally relevant knowledge gained up to that point as well as to the importance of mutual music-making/artistic practice. One aspect in particular that was perceived as positive was the opportunity to become acquainted with international examples from actual practice. Commonalities, as well, were emphasised by one participant in the study: “If we take small steps together and are open to new experiences, we can achieve wonderful, eye-opening things.” Another study participant stated that “it was a privilege to take part in this pedagogical training.”1
By now, Beate Hennenberg and the academic assistant Denise Csida have produced a further study with the additional involvement of Ulrich Kropiunigg of the Medical University of Vienna that features retrospective reflections of teachers concerning changes in their professional skills during ALIISA. The detailed findings of this study will be published in a specialist journal. However, it can already be ascertained that the experts here did indeed continue to develop their diverse fields of work independently and creatively and in accordance with societal needs. ALIISA shaped up to be an important motor in the relevant professional fields of academic activity—something that, in turn, also has its effects on the participants’ own institutions. And in the interest of ensuring and bringing forward high-quality inclusive education in the tertiary and secondary educational sectors, another necessary ingredient will be an increased degree of active involvement in professional associations and political bodies.
The concluding symposium of ALIISA took place on 12 June in the mdw’s Joseph Haydn-Saal, with the project’s outcomes presented in light of philological, philosophical, and music-educational considerations. And henceforth, ACIAE—as a prototype continuing education programme comprised of various building blocks—will be available and ready for adaptation and use by European universities.