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Gem Barton

A hands-on and inspirational teacher with innovative and often radical views about the future of education and creative practice, Gem Barton balances her passion for teaching excellence with her empathy for others. Her research interests lie in the power of imagination and creative communication, centering on the theme of ‘experimental realisms’.
University of Brighton
Job Title
Principal lecturer

Since 2005, Gem has taught the next generation of architects and interior architects through creative, learner-centred teaching, mentoring early career academics and publishing work influencing young professionals.

Leading BA (Hons) Interior Architecture (BAIA), she has redefined the course and its identity, manifesto, trajectory, curricula and pedagogic strategies, improving staff engagement, student satisfaction, External Examiner feedback, NSS scores and student outcomes.

As an author and academic, she has published on gender, feminism, film, spatial production, narrative, story-telling, reality, representation, careers, enterprise, academia, teaching, interiors and architecture - all directly informing her approach to teaching and learning, inspiring students to develop their potential. In her role at Brighton these interests converge in a course identity that centres on the theme of ‘experimental realisms’.

Gem understands that creative disciplines where students publically reveal their ideas, creations and soul require a learning environment where they feel supported. Her openness and approachability ensures her students feel safe to be uncomfortable, enabling them to better understand the process in design, embrace iterative learning, value knowledge and positivity deriving from mistakes for personal development.

Gem’s book ‘Don’t get a Job, Make a Job: how to make it as a creative graduate’ (2016), published in three languages and sold globally, takes centre stage in progressive texts about creative approaches to professional practice within design disciplines (2nd edition planned for 2021).

Having ‘struggled through the muddy waters of architectural academe’ herself, she is pioneering an initiative which will work with established internal Advance HE validated courses to provide teaching qualifications unique to architecture and design. In a changing creative landscape, Gem believes in facilitating learning that enables students to go out into the world and define new disciplines based on the independent critical design thinking skills they have developed at university. Her graduates are design innovators and cultural agitators, fully equipped to lead and prosper in an undefined future.

Gem has spoken at the Design Museum, exhibited at Tate Britain, is Chief Examiner of Design at Glasgow School of Art, peer reviewer and advisory board member for academic journals and institutions internationally.