Map Ethics! A workshop model


The following proposes a flexible model for unfolding and mapping ethical dimensions within the frame of artistic PhD projects and doctoral supervision – to instigate discussion, curiosity and consciousness, aiming to avoid a normative approach. The mission of the model is to identify ethical aspects which are not obvious, may be not yet recognized, may be part of more complex issues, and create an entry point for discussions about this. Such mapping and discussions may make a qualitative contribution to the development of the project as well as to the professional discourse in the artistic research environment – hopefully a shared enhanced awareness of ethical issues. The model is developed from the artistic researcher’s point of view and not exclusively based on input from experts in ethics.


Below, you find suggestions to how the present material may be used in workshops in your environment. The intention is that the text and models may generate thoughts, develop ideas, trigger reactions and produce adaptations – without the original authors being present. The model should be applied on local material, such as PhD plans or other project descriptions,  presentations, discussions on academic roles and power structures. 


Your role or situation might be one of these: 

  • You are or plan to become a PhD candidate, or staff member/supervisor obliged to pick up ethical issues in project discussions 
  • You are responsible for the contents of seminars/workshops in the context of educational settings or in researchers'/artists' groups.
  • You are responsible for PhD programmes, projects or research groups and must be able to clarify how you are working with ethics and research integrity in your programme/institution, through the curriculum and or/courses.

Planning a workshop – establish the team

Define a setting where a workshop 'Map Ethics' could be organised in your environment. This could be part of a large scale research seminar or conference, a seminar/workshop in a research school, an activity in you research group or in a setting where people with different institutional roles are to meet (doctorates, supervisors and administrators). 


Form a core team of organisers (3–5?) and make the group read the main texts.


Then consider:

  • What is your main motivation for setting up a workshop mapping ethics? 
  • Who is the target group(s)? Voluntary or mandatory?
  • Supervisors, fellows, PhD administration, what are the different roles to be aware of?  Should they participate in the same workshop or in different groups? Are there issues of power structures to be considered (such as professor/institute leader vs candidate/student etc)?
  • Are there main issues in this context which seem to be most pressing for the time being and the persons/environments involved? 
  • To create a good in depth discussion: How many people (maximum/minimum) should take part in the workshop? Could it be feasible to divide into several discussion groups, of how many persons? 
  • What is the local material to be worked on? Local project descriptions may be fruitful. 
  • One day? Two days with some working time in between? Or even a series of meetings?
  • Define a clear goal or aim for what is intended to be the output for the workshop. If you are working within the setting of a research school or program, bear in mind that the course description might offer guidance.

Establish the team meant to work with the topic

When setting the date for the workshop and distributing the invitation, make sure to give the participants time to prepare and to read. The model offered here might serve as a manual but may trigger further ideas and point to literature and resource persons that could be relevant for your case and your environment.


The introductory texts must be read before the workshop by all participants. 


If you intend to use project descriptions as working material, decide whether these should be distributed on beforehand among the participants with some instruction. Make sure that the necessary consents are given form the project owner.

Running the workshop

One could think that an ideal situation for start would be to have at least one of the authors on this site as introducer(s). However, the intention with the present material is to generate thoughts, make ideas develop, reactions to be triggered and adaptations happen. 


What is the main motivation for setting up the workshop? 


What main issues are relevant most pressing for the time being? 


How can you best keep the discussion focused on i.e. an issue/topic and still open for multifaceted perspectives?

The workshop – and following up afterwards

Make sure that both organisers and participants are well informed about the plan for the workshop and what the aims are. 


Make a common decision on the spot in the group, on the level of confidentiality.


Should there be any kind of summary or records of the workshop afterwards – for what purpose? If so, may one person have dedicated time to concentrate on that during the workshop? Is the summary intended to be public or within the group? What may be the best medium for a summary/documentation? (Video/audio recording might seem easy to handle within the workshop, but it requires a professional handling of consents from the participants and an amount of edit work afterwards – how can 4–5 hours of video be of value, and where/how is such data planned to be stored? The discussions on site may be different with a camera/recorder present.)


The experiences from the workshop may cause an urge for following up workshops and seminars – nothing would be better than that!

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Sample invitation for a workshop on Ethics and Artistic Research 2019. The invitation for workshops on Feb 15 and Mar 8, was distributed on Dec 5, with a deadline Dec 17, leaving some eight weeks for collecting, reminding and making adjustments. Aim for long term planning, time flies anyway...

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Image of a whiteboard used when planning a seminar (Feb/March 2019) for PhD candidates at the Faculty of Fine Arts, Music and Design, University of Bergen. The structure and keywords are basically recognisable in Jostein Gundersen's article "Map Ethics! A method for identifying and addressing ethical dimensions of artistic research projects" published in this exposition.

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A fundament for the project Advancing Supervision for Artistic Research Doctorates is the triangular model (institution, supervisor, student), which "replaces the past model of supervisor-student relationship (‘doctor father/mother model’) and calls for a reshaping of PhD programmes and a new approach to supervision" (from the application to Erasmus+).

Take time to consider this triangulation, regarding roles, responsibilites and rights, when setting up the "Map Ethics!" workshop in your environment.