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John Baldacchino and Nick Mirzoeff, interviewing Jacques Ranciere during the 2nd Annual Seminar: Jacques Ranciere at Teachers College Columbia University, New York City, April 22, 2008.

John Baldacchino is the Director of the Arts Institute at the University of Madison-Winsconsin, where he is also a Professor of Arts Education. Prior to UW-Madison he was Professorial Chair of Arts Education at the University of Dundee in Scotland. He has served as Associate Dean & Full Professor of Arts Pedagogy at the Graduate School, Falmouth University, United Kingdom; as Associate Professor of Art and Art Education at Columbia University’s Teachers College in New York; Reader (Associate Prof.) in Critical Theory & Contextual Studies at Gray's School of Art, The Robert Gordon University, Scotland; and Lecturer (Assistant Prof.) of Arts Education and Cultural Studies at the University of Warwick, England.

As an academic Baldacchino specializes in art, philosophy, politics and education. While his academic work is always contextualized by the arts, it is framed within a comprehensive context in terms of (a) engaging with the contemporary arts within an agôn that aricualtes a politics of aesthetics that is formative and radically democratic; (b) doing research as a generative activity that reflects studio practice-based methods; and (c) regarding the role of the academic as an opportunity to enhance democracy as a creative state of affairs that emerges from the ever changing horizon of a pragmatic understanding of change and constant reform.

Baldacchino has comprehensive experience of teaching in British and American systems of education spanning across primary, secondary and tertiary levels. He sustains a continuous interest in philosophy of education, keeping abreast with the various changes and challenges that continue to characterise learning as a polity that is transformed into a space of arguing and doing. His teaching and research interests converge on society, the school, and the polity through a concern for philosophy and the arts, their ethical-formative roles within and beyond the school; pedagogy, innovation and creativity; educational politics and their cultural condition.

Baldacchino's research and teaching philosophy is characterised by:

  • Continuously enhancing and reaffirming the arts through a mutual relationship between practice and discourse, teaching and research.
  • A strong commitment to developing arts research within a fuller dimension that attends to the need to strengthen its ethical, epistemological and aesthetic implications.
  • A commitment to education as a polity of democracy and social justice, where the educationist programme reaffirms itself in its grander project of emancipation.
  • Reaffirming a philosophy of education that is neither exclusive of, nor marginal to, empirical and applied research.

As an artist Baldacchino considers his engagement with the visual arts as having three avenues: studio practice, theoretical research and teaching. In his studio practice he mainly works in two-dimensional media, although in his artistic education he specialized in both painting and sculpture. His studio interests extend to publishing, typography, and graphic design. His graphic art covers web-design, illustration, layout and cover design. As a graphic designer he designed and illustrated a series of Italian textbooks, children's Italian readers, and cover-design and layout- and page-setting of several academic books. He also contributed as a free-lance political cartoonist in weekly and monthly newspapers and magazines. He exhibited in solo and collective shows in the UK, Europe, the US and Asia and he mostly works in two-dimensional (mixed) media.

He is the author of numerous refereed and journalistic articles in academic and political journals. Between 1983 and 1990 he regularly published journalistic articles and critical essays in political journals and newspapers language and was also a graphic artist and political cartoonist, contributing work on a weekly basis. More recently he has resumed writing on civil issues and political reform, though his focus remains on academic writing.

He is the author of the following books: Post-Marxist Marxism: Questioning the Answer (Avebury, 1996), Easels of Utopia: Art’s Fact Returned (Ashgate, 1998), Avant-Nostalgia: An Excuse to pause (USOPIA, 2002), Education Beyond Education: Self and the Imaginary in Maxine Greene’s Philosophy (Peter Lang Publishers, 2009), Makings of the Sea: Journey, Doubt Nostalgia (Gorgias Press 2010), Art's Way Out: Exit Pedagogy and the Cultural Condition (Sense Publishers 2012), Mediterranean Art Education (with Raphael Vella, Sense 2013), Democracy Without Confession (with Kenneth Wain, Allied Publishers 2013), John Dewey: Liberty and The Pedagogy of Disposition (Springer 2014) and My Teaching, My Philosophy. Kenneth Wain: A Lifelong Engagement with Education (with Simone Galea and Duncan Mercieca, Peter Lang 2014).

He is currently working on four further book projects (projected for 2014-2016). The first is a book on Giambattista Vico's philosophy of education (already contratcted with Springer), the second on tradition and disestablishment in Ivan Illich's philosophy (currently with Peter Lang publishers), and the third consists of two books of philosophical essays on art and belonging and on art as unlearning.



Scholarly interests

Philosophy: philosophy of education | aesthetics | formative ethics | critical pragmatism | philosophy of the visual and performing arts | critical theory | the politics of aesthetics | Mediterranean aesthetics.

Education: | unlearning | weak pedagogy | pedagogies of practice | pedagogical aesthetics | practice-based arts research in education.

Art: studio practice | arts-based methodologies | 20th century and contemporary arts contexts and histories| critical & visual theory | new visual media and convergent languages in the arts | discourses and methods of the virtual.


John Baldacchino, Ernesto Laclau and Matt Carlin during the 1st Annual Seminar: Ernesto Laclau, at Teachers College Columbia University, New York City, April 11, 2007.



Ph.D. University of Warwick, England, UK, (1991- 1994) | Areas of Research: Aesthetics, Critical Theory, Political Philosophy, Modernism, Contemporary Art and Music.

M.A. University of Warwick, England, UK, (1993) | Areas of Research: Aesthetics, Critical Theory, Mediterranean studies, Modernism, contemporary and inter-cultural music; theory of culture.

B.Ed. (Hons.) University of Malta, Malta (1984-1989) | Specialism: History of Art, Visual Arts (studio), Arts Education, Early & Middle Years (Primary teaching).

Baldacchino, Otherness (acrylics on canvas)