Academics and artists addressing social challenges

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A painting of a chessboard with handcuffs

Read on for details of a competition organised by a co-convener of the Russian and Eurasian Security Working Group, the winners of which will be displayed at the BISA 2024 conference.

Supported by the Open Societal Challenges Fund and the British Association for the Study of Religions, the Open University, King’s College London and Pitik Bulag cartoon collective are launching a competition to bring together outreach-focused academics and cartoonists to collaborate on a series of images that make the latest research about pressing social challenges accessible to general audiences.

Five successful academic applicants will each be matched together with five successful cartoonists with similar topical interests. Each academic-artist partnership will then have six weeks to collaborate to produce a cartoon and one paragraph accompanying text in English. The five resulting works will be exhibited at a series of international academic conventions and gallery installations, and put forward to a final competition with prizes for judges’, people’s and academics’ choice. Copyright will remain with the creators.

Applications procedure

Academic applicants should submit a one-page Expression of Interest to by 12 noon (GMT) on Wednesday 3 April. Half of this should be dedicated to the applicant’s motivations for, and any relevant experience of, academic-artistic collaborations. Half should provide an outline of the academic’s research topic and the particular finding/s that they envisage rendering as a cartoon. Joint applications from academic co-authors will be considered, but should state a lead applicant to be matched with the cartoonist, if successful.​

Cartoonist applicants should submit between one and three examples of their previous work and a one-page Expression of Interest (EoI) to by 12 noon (GMT) on Wednesday 3 April. The EoI should should say: 1) Why you want to collaborate with an academic; 2) What experience you have of working with others, and if you have worked with academics before; 3) What kind of social challenges you are most interested in, and how your art could help address them.

Work on any pressing social challenges is eligible for the competition, but we particularly welcome EoIs related to: international relations, history politics, disinformation/counter-disinformation, and the political roles of religious organisations.

Selection procedure

Successful academic applicants will be selected based both on the strength of their EoI and the closeness of their fit with the selected artists participating in the project. 

Project Timeline

  • Wednesday 3 April, 12 noon (GMT): Deadline for submission of EoI

  • Friday 5 April: Notification to applicants

  • w/c Monday 8 April: Artistic-academic collaborations begin

  • Monday 20 May, 12 noon: Deadline for production of final cartoon and accompanying text

  • June – October 2024: Exhibitions and promotion of final outputs

Please see the documents below for more details.

Image by Cartoonist ZACH