The art of balance #35 | Isabelle Muller, what language will you speak?
The director of the Centre des arts at the International School of Geneva is the 35th guest of “The art of balance/Pandemopraxy”, the initiative launched by Cittadellarte. Isabelle Muller starts by illustrating the curriculum for the XXI century called “Universal Didactic Programme” – developed by her school in collaboration with UNESCO’s International Office of Education – to then talk about the role art plays in the institute she directs. “Faced with the current pandemic situation,” she said, “it is in my eyes necessary to use art as a universal language”.

Which language will you speak ?
A major question but which has always been at the heart of my research and reflections in my work with the students from the International School of Geneva, but also in my personal life.
Directing the Centre des arts at the International School of Geneva, I am very proud to be part of a new curriculum built and developed in our foundation by our director Dr Conrad Hughes, as written in the “Universal Learning Programme” and in the “Universal Understanding Guide”:

The International School of Geneva’s La Grande Boissière and UNESCO’s International Bureau of Education have collaborated on a 21st century curriculum called the Universal Learning Programme (ULP) that develops competences in young people to equip them to thrive in our world and to develop a strong social conscience. These competences, identified by some of the world’s top researchers and practitioners, are:
Lifelong learning: knowing how to learn affords people the regenerative capacity to reinvent themselves for changing contextual demands. It is the source of innovation, adaptability, agility, and resilience.
Self-agency: this demands capacity and empowerment to analyse the demands of one’s environment and apply all resources at hand (knowledge, skills, technologies, etc.) to take beneficial and self-fulfilling action.
Interactively using diverse tools and resources: these tools include intellectual, cultural, religious, linguistic, material, technical, fiscal, physical, and virtual resources, the interface of the self and machines in smart factories as envisaged in the concept Industry 4.0, the use of multiple technologies, and of time.
Interacting with others: this demands collaboration to resolve complex problems and create integrated solutions across contexts. It reaches beyond productivity to humanity. It is also a key competence for social interaction, social cohesion, harmony, justice, and ultimately a peaceful and more reconciled future.
Interacting with the world: this enables awareness, sensitivity, and advocacy for collective challenges and opportunities at a local, national, regional, and global level. It entails multicultural, multireligious and multilingual perspectives that embrace diversity as an enriching asset.
Multi-literateness: the 21st century requires people to be multi-literate and to flexibly deploy all literacies. These go beyond reading, writing, and arithmetic to include competences like digital, cultural, financial, health, and media literacies.
Transdisciplinarity: increasing complexity requires ever more sophisticated solutions that integrate knowledge from multiple disciplines and domains of knowledge“.

The competences that drive learning in our curriculum are grouped into four themes, each driven by a guiding question:
• Character – Who am I?
• Passion – What is my purpose?
• Mastery – How can I go further?
• Collaboration – How can we work together?

The new generation is our future. In a school that brings together more than 140 nationalities, the opening of the Centre des arts has made it possible to explore and integrate art as a support for the curriculum. Transdisciplinary artistic projects take the form of committed messages, or activists, or make it possible to transmit an opinion or reflection on the subjects which occupy us today. That being said, faced with the current pandemic situation it is in my eyes necessary to use Art as a universal language. The uncertainty of the future is questioning, worrying, shaking but also allows time for reflection for a beneficial change. More than ever, creativity is needed to build a better world. More than ever, we need a change. Looking back to the 1930s for guidance, culture and art being destroyed, a new era was born. Artists, comedians, performers, etc. tried to come out with creative proposals which are today installed and recognised as official art (street art, cinema, pantomime, etc.). They have tried to innovate, motivated by current events. Art and culture have defined themselves as a language at that time, a means of expression that relayed the suffering and anger of humanity.

With the COVID interrupting the whole world, it seems we have a huge opportunity to rethink the world, involving a change to live in a better world with a healthy planet, a caring humanity with strong solidarity and generosity. We will have to be more creative and get over fear and limits, trying new concepts, and maybe use the arts as a research think tank to build the next future for our young generations.

Having been in the Swiss and International cultural scene for more than 20 years, I see “Culture and Arts” as a plan to recover and rebuild our world. Art will definitely be my universal language, in my career, but also in my personal life. Creativity gives us a bubble of expression, a tool to share convictions, a key for change, a cause for humanity, an education role.

Art is everywhere! Art is Social! Art is Education! Art is Movement! Art is Solidarity! Art is Universal! Social Impact is an Art!

Isabelle Muller
Director of the Centre des arts
International School of Geneva Foundation