Since my first invited lecture in 1994 at an arts university, I have dedicated my life to advancing creative approaches to teaching/learning centred on EDI (equity, diversity and inclusivity). I craft multi-modal, anti-colonial, internationalised, inclusive methods and contents to counter siloed, elitist approaches, instigate novel & meaningful synergies linking scholarship, industry demands & society, and prioritise learning from/with communities excluded from HE, & working with professionals & sectors outside HE. As artist-teacher-practitioner, I specialise in what I term ‘tentacular pedagogy’. This comprises curating innovative, inclusive, internationalised, student-centred, research-inquiry-based interventions & environments,  prioritising applied and transferable creative intelligence, promoting art school spirit & skill of independent & creative thinking, giving students the permission to play, take risks, think bold & act entrepreneurial, be agile & adaptive, & to be equipped with transferable skills that enable diverse applications in cross-sectorial boundaries, within & beyond creative arts HE globally. I have worked in >200 HEIs BA-PhD as Examiner, Programme Leader, Lecturer, Tutor, Visiting Lecturer, Visiting Artist worldwide, in, across and beyond established & emerging disciplines and areas in Liberal and Creative Arts & Humanities. I have helped to establish Media Art as HE subject in Singapore, through my role as Video Art BA Programme Leader (LASALLE College of Arts, validated by Goldsmiths). This built on my track record then as ‘media artist to look out for’ (Japanese journal Art It, 2005’), Singapore’s foremost video artist’ (Contemporary Art in Singapore 2005), expert advisor for government bodies (Infocomm Media Authority Singapore 2007-2012, Ministry of Education, Culture, National Arts Council). Why, what, how and whom I teach draws on my own upbringing under Singapore’s ‘hothouse’ educational regime, which emphasised hierarchy, rote-learning with ‘teachers as sage’. With working-class parents who both left school without qualifications, I have been lucky to attain full-scholarships to undertake studies in Chicago, Tokyo and UK which strengthen dedication to widening participation & internationalisation. My own late and surprising neurodivergence diagnoses (ADHD, autism, dyslexia & dyspraxia) after PhD at UCL Slade School of Fine Art further fortify inclusive & socially-engaged pedagogical ethos 

See also Keynotes and Exhibitions for more, and for providing training for peers & professionals through keynote lectures and masterclasses. For the rest of my CV, click here.

07/2023 onwards: ASSOCIATE PROFESSOR IN ARTS & CULTURAL LEADERSHIP, University of Southampton, UK

Associate Professor in Arts & Cultural Leadership, Winchester School of Art (WSA), University of Southampton. Full time, permanent contract. University of Southampton is a founding member of the Russell Group. The University is ranked top 1% of universities worldwide. WSA was ranked 7th in subject area ‘Art’ in the Guardian University League Table 2019. Responsibilities:

  • Conduct research in line with the School/Department research strategy and in keeping with an established research agenda in arts and cultural leadership
  • Teach arts and cultural leadership at postgraduate level and as specific expertise allows at undergraduate level.
    • Module Leader, Ideas and Debates module (30 credits), MA Arts and Cultural Leadership
    • Guest Speaker, Postgraduate Research WSA PhD Seminar Series. On Tentacularity and Networking.
  • Undertake leadership, management and engagement activities.
    • Winchester School of Art Education Group member
    • Mentor for staff on their Advance HE qualifications
1994- current: OVERVIEW
  • 2024: PhD External Examination, Dance, The Royal Conservatoire of Scotland
  • 2024: PhD External Examination, for Doctorate of Professional Practice, Otago Polytechnic I Te Pūkenga – New Zealand Institute of Skills and Technology, New Zealand
  • 11/2022-10/2026: External Examiner, BA Fine Art, Sheffield Hallam University
  • 2023: PhD External Examination, School of Fine Art, History of Art and Cultural Studies, University of Leeds
  • 2022: LUCA School of Arts, Belgium
  • 2021: Postgraduate Research, Kingston School of Art, Kingston University 
  • Since 09/2019 – current: Senior Lecturer. Programme Leader Creative Arts Leadership MA. Manchester School of Art, Manchester Metropolitan University. Teach across BA, MA, PhD in Fine Art, Curating, Performance, staff and student training (on networking, higher education, creativity, research, EDI). Provost’s Road to 2030 invited Academic Advisory group member, Race Equality Activities Planning (REAP) Founder and Co-Chair, Advisory board member for Centre for Race and Anti-Racism, Disability Forum member, Departmental EDI co-lead, Faculty EDI group member
  • Since 2018- current: King’s College London: Affective Disorder MSc (Convenor: Dr Patricia Zunzsain): On Creativity & Affective Disorder. Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology & Neuroscience (IoPPN)
  • Since 2018- current: King’s College London: Education in Arts and Cultural Settings MASchool of Education, Communication and Society (alumni includes Turner Prize winner 2021 Tom Wells) (Convenor: Dr Anwar Tlili). 2 sessions: What will a Neurodiversity-led 2050 look like? and Practice, Movement and Play in Learning, both for the module ‘The Arts, Culture & Education and Learning, Participation & the Southbank Centre’
  • Since 2018- current: St Georges University London & Birkbeck, Global Health Humanities Msc (Convenors: Dr Deborah Padfield and Prof Annie Bartlett), on ‘How to Think about Running‘. For Postgraduate module Finding a Leg to Stand On: Clinical, Critical and Creative Approaches to the Human Body. Part of Open Spaces, which brings medicine, science & healthcare into dialogue with the humanities, arts & enterprise
  • 2022: Decolonising Teaching and Research in Literary Studies (doctoral training), part of SOUTH AFRICAN MODERNISM 1880-2020, AHRC-Funded Research Project by Dr Jade Munslow Ong
  • University of Salford.
  • 2020, 2019: Reading University
  • 2019: Invited Speaker, Hai Sing Catholic School, Singapore
  • 2019: Birkbeck, University of London
  • 2019: Plymouth College of Art
  • 2018: Paris School of Arts and Culture, University of Kent, France
  • 2018: BSc Nursing, Guy’s Hospital, KCL
  • 2018: MA Art & Science seminar, Central Saint Martins, University Arts London
  • 2018: King’s Undergraduate Medical Education in the Community, Faculty of Life Sciences & Medicine, KCL
  • 2018: Workshop with neurodivregent children from Lyndhurst Primary School, South London 
  • 2017: MFA, Goldsmiths University. Invited by Professor Michael Newman
  • 2014-7: External Assessor. Art Education BA, Singapore Institute of Management University. Vice Provost Prof Cheah Horn Mun praises ‘exemplary thoroughness’ and ‘admirable professionalism’. Examined: BAE207 Art & New Media Technologies, BAE203 Study of Visual Images, BAE101 World Art & Social Spaces
  • 2014-7: Peer Supporter to colleagues on PhD studies, CPD and research. Leeds Arts University
  • 2015: University of Helsinki. Invited by Sirpa Tani, Prof of Geography & Environmental Education
  • 2014: Tutor, Open College of Arts. Drawing Skills, History of Art I: Western Art, Visual Studies: Understanding Visual Culture
  • 2013-4: Tutor, Tutor for AFHEA portfolio submissions, Psychology & Language Sciences, School of Life & Medical Studies UCL
  • 2013: Critical & Historical Studies Programme, Royal College of Art
  • 2010: Visiting Assessor, Visiting Lecturer. Foundational Course, London College of Communication, UAL
  • 2010: School of Art, Design & Media, Nanyang Technological University
  • 2008: Lecturer and Digital Consultant, School of the Arts, Singapore
  • 2008: Silliman University, Dumaguete, Philippines 
  • 2006: School of Film & Video, Edith Cowen University, Perth, Australia
  • 2006: Photomedia, School of Arts, Australian National University, Canberra
  • 2006: School of Contemporary Arts, University of New South Wales, Australia
  • 2005-9: Full-time Lecturer. Faculty of Media Arts, LASALLE College of the Arts, Singapore (validated by Goldsmiths University). Pathway Leader, Video Art. Dean Wolfgang Muench (2009): `She instigated and implemented major changes for the for the academic and artistic direction of the Video Art Pathway, resulting in a new and improved course design that matches international quality standards. Kai established herself as an excellent leader and respected team worker’. Supervised Fine Art MA theses. Additionally: delivered lectures, seminars, tutorials at Puttnam School of Film & Fine Art See details
  • 2004: Tama Art University, Tokyo, Japan
  • 2004: Tokyo Film College, Tokyo, Japan
  • 2001: LASALLE College of the Arts
  • 1998-2001: Full-time Lecturer. School of Film & Media Studies, Ngee Ann Polytechnic, Singapore. Film History, Film Theory & Aesthetics, 16mm filmmaking, Storyboarding for Set Design. Hone agility in teaching in lecture theatre of 200 learners, conducting 1-to-1 tutorials, communicating with parents, inspiring cynical young adults. Creative intervention: School was foremost institution for media production in Asia. Students learnt about & made classical cinema, advertisements & TV drama, but played safe. Propose & successfully run Experimental Film Projects unit to open up space for exploration in creative dialogue with key taught modules which focused on classical production. Give students the permission to play, fail and explore. Student Bertrand Lee went on to win Cannes International Film Festival Award for film Birthday (2006), enhancing institution’s international profile. 
  • 1994: LASALLE College of the Arts
09/2019-07/2023: SENIOR LECTURER, Manchester Metropolitan University, UK
  • 09/2019: Joined MMU as Senior Lecturer and specialist in interdisciplinary creative leadership as Programme Leader to develop MA Creative Arts Leadership  for 09/2023 start, Manchester School of Art, Manchester Metropolitan University
  • Leadership & Innovation: Proactive and resourceful, consistently go over and above the expectations of Senior Lecturer role to advance International Agenda, Education, Research and Knowledge. Initiate and lead activities that celebrate creativity, culture and Equity, Diversity and Inclusivity (EDI), thus extending pillars of ambition, place and partnership. As standing as an emerging interdisciplinary creative research leader grows, help to extend MMU’s regional, national and international reputation.
  • Also: Departmental EDI Co-Lead, Faculty EDI member, intra-institutional Race Equality Activities Planning Group Co-Lead, Proposed Research Centre for Study of Race & Racism Advisory Board Member, and MMU Disability Forum Member.
  • HIGHLIGHTS
    • 2023: National Teaching Fellowship nomination.
    • 2022: Stellar HE Leadership programme nomination, participation & completion.
    • 2022: Inclusive Companies Award Nomination.
    • 2021-2022: Invited panel member: Deputy Vice Chancellor’s Academic Advisory Group (smaller groups of academics, professionals, students and other stakeholders to contribute to 2030 Strategic Framework).
    • 2022: Invited panel member: PVC Education’s and University Teaching Academy (UTA) and National Teaching Fellowship panel 2022.
    • 2022: MMU EDI Award nomination by Director of Poetry Library Becky Swain. Says Becky: ‘I want to nominate Kai Syng Tan for her individual and dedicated practice at Manchester Met to champion diversity and work to develop an inclusive campus. Kai has initiated and undertaken action through the Race Equality Activity Planning (REAP) Group that has promoted diversity, equality and inclusion for staff snd students across the university. This has included through her own research practice, but also dedication to anti – racist practice – including dedicated work leading colleagues in coordinating many of the A&H faculty activities centring on the 75th anniversary of the Pan African Congress and tirelessly advocating for resources to support key EDI work. Kai has advocated for cultural leadership programmes,  and even setting up a book group that has regularly brought together colleagues to discuss a wide range of fiction, poetry and non fiction that focuses on BAME authors and experiences of racism’.
    • 2021: Leverhulme Prize nomination & submission (£100,000)
    • 2021 onwards: Invited Panel Member & EDI Advisor: Recruitment of PVC Faculty and Head of Department; Graduate Awards, Holden Gallery. new Eliza Charlotte Morris Prize 2022. £1000 annual award (for ten years) for graduating students of A Drama and Contemporary Performance who demonstrate creative engagement and care with cohort. Created to honour and commemorate student Eliza Charlotte Morris.
    • 2021: MMU EDI Award nomination by Faculty Head of Education Professor Phil Drake
    • 2021: Aurora Leadership programme nomination, participation & completion.
    • 2020: University Disabled Role Model
  • RESEARCH & KNOWLEDGE EXCHANGE
    • Research Excellence Framework 2021: Four outputs rated >3* in the internal REF panels. MM REF 2021 results was outstanding, with Art and Design emerging 2nd nationally.
    • Leads Social Art Inclusion Laboratory (SAIL) research group. Works with diverse group of ECRs to explore and advance creative research in socially-engaged art. SAIL is a microcosm of what EDI (equity diversity inclusion) should look like as practised, applied and researched. Members are trans, disabled, ethnically-diverse and our research also entangle with related issues, which relate to my own research too.  
    • Research Mentor: For artist lecturer Chester Tenneson who leads on an exceptional Queer Reading group that supports, elevates and celebrates the work of LGBTQI+ students
    • Member of various other groups, including Mobilities Art and Performance, Disability Cultures.  
    • External income:
      • Costed as Junior Researcher in: Professor Amanda Ravetz’s £100,609 AHRC EDI Fellowship, ‘Social Art For Equality, Diversity, and Inclusion (SAFEDI)‘ with Social Art Network.  
      • PI for BBC Film Commission from The Space and Unlimited (£8900+£1000 +
      • Costed as Mentor for Ali Wilson’s Every Brain (£14,867, Arts Council England) and Ashok Mistry’s DYCP (£10,000, Arts Council England) with George Vasey & Mike Layward/Dash Arts.
      • Costed as Collaborator in £5000 from Arts Council England & Anglia Ruskin University for Running Artfully Network Launch.
    • Internal grants won:
      • As Principal Investigator:
        • 2021: Manchester School of Art Research Centre (MSARC) contingency fund: £2900
        • 2022: Covid Recovery Fund: £2500
        • 2022: MSARC Fund: £300
        • 2022: Asian Cultures Research: £500
      • As Co-Investigator:
        • 2021: £3000: For Social Art Inclusion Laboratory (SAIL). PI: Prof. Amanda Ravetz
        • 2020: Approximately £10,000: GCRF fund for Pan African Congress 75th Anniversary Celebrations as collaborator. PI: Prof. Ola Uduku.
    • Peer Reviewing: Review research grant applications and articles.
    • Active grant bidder: Despite external funding processes being highly-inaccessible, I have, since joining ManMet in 09/2019 been an extremely active bidder for external funds. Total : £318,202.41
  • EDI (CO-) LEADERSHIP
    • Advance EDI and International Agendas, through Learning and Teaching, RKE and Citizenship, prioritising creative, non-siloed co-creative, cross-institutional alliance and ally-ship.
    • Example: Pan African Congress 75th anniversary celebrations PAC@75 (Black History Month 2020), a 4-day festival with 18 events co-curated with Professor of Architecture Ola Uduku (now University of Liverpool Head of Architecture) in collaboration with 11 cultural and academic partner institutions that reached 18.2 million people worldwide, and saved Manchester Met £168,000 in advertising (equivalent advertising value/EAV). Its legacies including the 55-member Race Equality Activity Planning Group REAP (since 2021) which I co-found and co-chair, which led cultural activities for Black History Month 2021 
    • Founding of Departmental Common Room (Spring 2020) which led to other EDI co-leadership at Department, Faculty and University. Formal roles include: Advisory Board Member for Research Centre for Study of Race & Racism, EDI Co-lead (Department of Art and Performance) and E&D Group member (Faculty of Arts and Humanities). Activities include helping to organise Faculty’s first LGBTQIA+ History Month Festival 2021
    • More:
      • Initiated Staff Neurodiversity group
      • Mentor neurodivergent staff and students
      • Contribute to improving access eg MSARC Research Handbook; online interfaces; new Arts and Humanities building.
      • Proactively provide positive feedback to staff and their line managers who exemplify good practice.
      • Proactively provide critical feedback and practical recommendations to improve processes such as on a transphobia case, and to make external payment processes more transparent and equitable.
  • MA CREATIVE ARTS LEADERSHIP
    • Interrogates ‘leadership’ as a practice, problem and possibilities for volatile times.
    • Curated through art school ethos with Business School, PERU, School of Digital Arts.
    • Targets professionals from and beyond the creative and cultural sectors in Asia and beyond.
    • Formalising discussions with the triple-crowned Business School. This formalisation will be a first for the Department.
    • Draws on extensive primary and secondary research across 2 years, including in consultation with the Faculty International Head, UTA’s Principal Lecturer Reader Dr Chrissi Nerantzi, and with 100+ industry experts such as Katelijn Verstraete, former Director Arts & Creative Industries East Asia, British Council, Dr Darren Henley OBE, CEO Arts Council England. Prof Chin Hwee Tan, CEO Asia Pacific of Trafigura (US$147 billion revenue) and David Moutrey, Manchester Director of Culture and CEO of Home.
    • MA will enable MMU to contribute to discourses led by UN and World Economic Forum, NESTA in creativity and new models of ‘leadership’ in a post-pandemic era.
  • PhD SUPERVISION & MORE :
    • PhD Supervision:
      • Principal Supervisor from 2021: Critically-acclaimed composer Daniel Kidane (BBC Proms 2019). Thesis: The Sound of Decolonisation. With Royal College of Northern Music and the National Archives.
      • Principal Supervisor from 2021: Erika Conchis. Thesis: “Can Design Anthropology and co-creative mapping approaches support residents in navigating urban air pollution?”, as part of £1.35m Leverhulme Unit for the Design of Cities of the Future (LUDEC).
      • First Supervisor for Anne-Marie Atkinson 2018- Challenging Outsider Art: How are learning disabled artists informing contemporary art? With Venture Arts
      • Second Supervisor for Olivia Rowland 2020- Articulation ≠ Liberation: Automatic Drawing, Anxiety and Agency
    • PhD Reviewing: Chair for review sessions for PhD students’ progress 
    • PhD External Examination 2023: Zejun Yao, Artisthlete, School of Fine Art, History of Art & Cultural Studies, University of Leeds.
    • PhD training: Invited by Postgraduate Arts and Humanities Centre (PAHC, Faculty’s provision of academic and professional training for PhD students) to deliver workshops, including on Neurodiversity, Social Art and Networking.
  • ACADEMIC DEVELOPMENT & INNOVATION
    • Invited Lead for Office for Students Pilot Programme: MMU is one of 22 institutions to deliver the Lifelong Learning Entitlement (2025), a cornerstone of the government’s Education White Paper. I have designed and will lead on 6-week ‘Creative Arts Leadership short course. Targeting nursery workers, care home and NHS staff, it will be delivered with MMU’s acclaimed RISE programme (Guardian University Award for best Course Design, Retention and Student Outcomes 2020).
    • Teaching Teachers: Often asked to deliver workshops for MMU staff through central University Teaching Academy around creativity and EDI.
    • Mentor: For peers’ Higher Education Academy Fellowship application
    • Innovation: Developing new university-wide approaches and programmes with Prof. Mark Peace (RISE)
  • LEARNING & TEACHING:
    • Specialism: Student-centred interdisciplinary learning, teaching and research with a focus on applied and transferable creative intelligence.
    • BA Fine Art Level 6 (final year):
      • Studio Practice
      • Contextualising Practice (dissertation papers in art historical and art theoretical perspectives)
      • Personal Tutor
    • Worked closely with tutees Provided additional one on one tutorials on course work, pastoral care and career advice for several who had mental health issues and/or anxiety due to pandemic. Wrote reference letters for students, helped prepare interview etc. Successful outcomes: Cyprus residency, PGCE course enrolment, nursing degree BA. Positive feedback from students, including from a transgender L6 student: ‘…thank you for being the best tutor, especially when the support was much needed. I always felt listened to and always left a tutorial inspired due to your words. Thank you!!’   
    • BA Fine Art Level 5:
      • Experimenting and Exploring with Practice (30 credits)
      • Talking About Art (15 credits)
      • Conversations about Keeping. Partner: Manchester Art Gallery
      • Primers (standalone projects with students)
    • PGT: Curating MA/MFA.
    • PGT: Manchester School of Theatre (MST) MA Performance.