The Art of Caring

HKU focuses education, research and design on the unique contribution that the arts can offer to the challenges in the domains of life sciences and health.

How can we shape the care for ourselves and each other in the 21st century? The world is changing, and our current healthcare system is reaching its limits. A caring society demands a new, more holistic approach. In taking up the challenges related to health, HKU believes that their researchers and students have an important part to play. Artists and designers are more qualified than anyone to critically review systems, get stagnant processes back in motion and imagine alternative future scenarios. They can present innovative ideas from a wholly different angle, free from the restrictions of ingrained assumptions, cutting right through all institutional barriers. We want to help the progress of society − in which our academy has a central place. Doing this offers new insights and work methods to ourselves as well, thereby improving our ways of preparing our students for a new future.

Let a designer spend a week at an IC. Ask a game designer to share thoughts on the social development of children with chronic disease. Or link an artist to a patient in a terminal stage of cancer. Their views and their questions will be very different from those of the nurse, the paediatrician and the oncologist. HKU strongly believes that such crossovers between the creative and the healthcare sector can contribute significantly to system innovation. We need each other’s knowledge, experience and expertise. Therefore, we will be focusing on partnerships within healthcare and welfare in the coming years. In coalitions with hospitals, healthcare institutions, the corporate sector and knowledge institutes, we will explore how we can transform the sector into a more humane system. Our goal is to join with patients and care providers in tackling social, mental, and physical challenges, towards a society in which every person can participate as fully as possible.

We will do this in a way that is typical for the arts sector: by creating, with curiosity and empathy. While the methods of healthcare are traditionally based on extensive science-based research and statistical evidence, we stir up the daily practice through design-based research. Teachers, lecturer-researchers and students thoroughly studying everyone involved, providing room for uncertainties, putting patients and clients in charge of their own narratives. Through creative interventions and prototypes, they explore and test new processes and applications. Not aimed at finding that one fix-all solution, but to connect to people and create meaningful experiences that make them feel better. This can take any form: an app for enhancing the mental strength of children who struggle with illness, a robot that can chat with patients suffering from dementia, or a personal work of art that helps a terminally ill patient restore a sense of meaning to their life. The effort is always aimed at enhancing quality of life – regardless of which stage of life or situation one is currently in.


In our research and innovation projects, we focus on the roles, methodologies, practices and impact of transdisciplinary cooperation, both within the healthcare domain as in the cultural environment and artistic practices. One of the ways we do this, is by practice-oriented research projects. Below you see a selection of these projects.