From environmental sustainability and climate change, to racial inequality, identity and the politics of migration, artists and designers can use their art as a platform for communities and people to voice the issues of our time.

Works of art and design can be powerful vehicles to communicate a message, advocate for change and empower individuals and movements. But how does art and design impact and influence communities, and what is the role of the artist in advancing change in society?

Over five weeks, NGV curators and guests introduce learners to the variety of ways that art has agency and the power of socially engaged art to bring about change through a study of historical and contemporary works from the NGV Collection.


Week 1
Social Change
What are the intersections between art, politics and social engagement, and how are social and political issues reflected in art and design? From activism-inspiring posters, to depictions of war and human rights, learn about the ways that art and design can be used to influence societal change.
Week 2
Black Lives Matter
How do artists and designers challenge institutionalised racial discrimination and racial inequality through their work, and what is the role of art and design in the Black Lives Matter movement? Learn about the art that has been produced in response to the movement in Australia and around the world, and consider the ways that artists respond to acts of violence and racism inflicted on their communities.
Week 3
Artists and designers frequently use their work as a platform to voice concerns around the oppression, marginalisation and mistreatment of people based on their gender, sexuality, ethnicity, race and religion. How can art challenge issues of discrimination in society, critique common forms of prejudice and influence an attitude of acceptance?
Week 4
Art and the Environment
How can art be used to interrogate the relationship between nature, time, human activity and our changing climate? Considering both historical and contemporary examples, discover the ways that art can provoke society to critically examine the effects of human consumption and industry on the environment.
Week 5
The Politics of Migration
Investigating the relationship between art and the politics of migration and displacement across the globe, encounter works of art and design that present the experiences of migrants, refugees and asylum seekers to raise awareness and prompt global action.

Course objectives

  • Analyse and interpret instances of socially engaged art
  • Consider the practices of artists and designers from the NGV Collection and their motivations to produce art for change
  • Compare and contrast artistic responses to historical and contemporary political and social issues
  • Critique the impact of socially engaged art on society over time
  • Formulate opinions about the resonance of art and its agency in both local and global contexts

Enrolment options

Standard Course Enrolment

Includes 8-week access to learning materials from the course start date.


  • General: $69
  • NGV Members: $63

Course dates are yet to be announced. Please register your interest to keep up to date about future courses.


Alexandra Kehayoglou
Santa Cruz River, 2017
300.0 × 478.0 × 714.0 cm (installed)
National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne
Purchased NGV Foundation with the assistance of Michael and Andrew Buxton from MAB Corporation Pty Ltd, and the Andrew and Geraldine Buxton Foundation, 2018
© Alexandra Kehayoglou