Will higher arts education become extinct in 2050? Sorry, is that too grim? Let’s flip it around. What should art schools, teachers, students, managers, cleaners, deans, janitors change, so that we can lead change and thrive in, with and for the next generation? Since you asked me, I’ll recommend growing tentacles. This was my new keynote lecture for European League of Institutes of the Arts’ Teachers Academy (ELIA), a European Network for higher arts education with >300,000 members in 282 institutions in 48 countries Europe, N and S Americas, and Australia and Asia. The event, entitled <the extended art student> explores the idea of transferable creative intelligence and the concept of the ‘extended artist’, which will continue in Brussels in February 2022. My keynote was the premier of the framework of ‘Tentacular Pedagogy’, and was entitled A Tentacular Pedagogy to Lead 2050. This session is a playful provocation and sweaty speed-date (20-minutes of allure!) to invite us to consider how stakeholders of higher arts education can up our game, amid a volatile moment of multiple global crises, and towards a more creative equitable and ecosystem, through art, artistic processes, artful agitation and ‘neurodivergent leadership‘. I will play a 95 (only)-slide presentation and look at clips from my recent film about a ‘neuro-fantastic’ future How to Thrive in 2050 now playing on BBC iPlayer, and also available on Vimeo for those who do not pay for TV licenses and/or outside of the UK.


  • 27 January 2022: Invited International Keynote, LUCA School of Arts, Gent, Belgium.
  • 22 February 2022: Invited Workshop, Castlefield Gallery. Public – Eventbrite link to follow.


That was incredible Kai – WOW.

Professor of Creative Practice Pedagogy

Everything you shared at the Elia keynote resonates with me. I have my little English clubs where we share all these subjects. There is so much to share which creates new ways for everyone. Love to have a speed date with you in Brussels, don’t mind some sweat.

Senior Coordinator, Royal Academy of Art, The Hague.

Thank you very much for your energizing and inspiring keynote contribution at the ELIA Academy Online Kick-Off. It was a pleasure to have you with us and we’ve received a lot of positive feedback from the steering group and participants. Thank you for all your preparations, flexibility, critical thinking and provocation. It was a truly memorable experience.


I really enjoyed reading/watching, and many of the provocations you make here really resonated with me – I really like the idea of tentacular pedagogy – co-incidentally I have been listening to some podcast of octopuses recently, and how they make us thinking about thinking differently, and those podcasts and your approach have inspired me to dig a little bit deeper into that conceptual model of pedagogy, which I had not really thought about before, so many thanks for sharing that. I would really like to read and find out more. 

Professor Helen Laville, Provost, Kingston UniVERSITY

Thank you so much for your inspiring keynote during the kick-off. I thought it was a perfect match to the theme of the Academy and the kind of event it wants to be. Always a challenge to do this online – you did that so well.



By participants of 06 December 2021 version as invited workshop for Postgraduate Research, Kingston School of Art, Kingston University.  There was debate on whether the master’s tools could dismantle the master’s house — a discussion to be continued to say the least!


#EliaAcademy #thriving2050 @Eliaartschools @kaisyngtan creative practice pedagogy, Higher Education, #pedagogy  #art #artisticresearch #neurodivergentleadership


ELIA is a European network for higher arts education. I will speak about EDI-centred transferrable and applied creative intelligence for its 300,000 members of lecturers, educators, researchers, technicians, and students in 282 institutions in Europe, N and S Americas, and AustralAsia. See this interactive map for the locations of the members and member institutions. I was invited at the recommendation of Creative Practice Pedagogy and PVC Education York St John Professor Susan Orr, who is also Editor of the Intellect journal Art, Design & Communication in Higher Education (ADCHE) and had described my article Towards an anti-racist Fine Art Ph.D.: ‘Anti-racism productive antagonisms’ (ARPA) for the supervisor, student and examiner as a ‘great text’ that she was ‘proud’ of publishing (see tweet below).


https://issuu.com/kaisyngtan/docs/elia_final_kai_lowres *December 2021: To add new data in future iteration: that there are 38 Black women Professors in the whole of UK out of 21000+ Professors.


24 November 12:35 version: https://kaisyngtan.com/artful/wp-content/uploads/2021/11/2021_ELIAscript_FINAL_KaiSyngTan.pdf


  • Extracts from How to Thrive in 2050 https://vimeo.com/595781479
    • First clip / first slide/before lecture begins: 00’00” – 01’03”
    • Second clip / 27th slide /around 6th minute of keynote: 02’19” – 04’37”
    • Third clip / 89th slide /around 17th minute of keynote: 07’23” – 08’29”
    • Additional clip / final slide/ around 20 minute of keynote: 13’10”- 14’09” (credits).
  • Additional clip: Film (07’18”) by Gemma RiggsOn art-psychiatry commission #MagicCarpet https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=arQCE3LoFmA


  • 5 minutes: Introduction (by host)
  • 25 minutes: presentation: A Tentacular Pedagogy to Lead 2050 (I will explain a little more about some of the terms, including ‘neurodiversity’)   
  • 20 minutes: Initial questions and answers 
  • 30 minutes: Break into groups with themes. People can share their thoughts on a shared Padlet, adding images and more, such as this. The themes can be the following:  
    • Neurodiversity: Do you know anyone who is neurodivergent, or are you neurodivergent? What will a neurodiversity-led curriculum/reality/school look like? 
    • Pedagogy: What is your pedagogy? How does it entangle with research and artistic practice?
    • Thriving in 2050: What are the strengths of your current work/research/teaching practice that you will keep?  
    • Tentacular: I’m inspired by the Octopus. What is your spirit animal that can empower you as we head towards the next generation?    
  • 30 minutes: Share + discuss findings.
  • 5 minutes: Conclusions, what next