Abyssal Bluff
Andrew Copolov
The project investigates the CEO of a deep-sea mining company, and an architect building a floating city; two figures who claim that their work will protect the planet from climate catastrophe. The project investigates the threat posed by these men and their fictions of salvation. It is unlikely that resource extraction can occur within ethical ecological and social constraints; but through moral alibis and sweet nothings the frontierists will sustain.
Give it Arrest
By Peter Brooks
Give it Arrest is a design for direct action, to ‘tell the truth’ on Extinction Rebellion’s flawed theory of social change. While their use of theatrical mass arrest may have successfully declared the emergency, we still need to avert it. All too often protests fade away but the climate crisis will not. Without the time to wait for another movement, how should Extinction Rebellion evolve?
About Us
Our Mission
About Us
School SOS is built upon 3 foundational tenets. Each tenet is informed by the rising fees in Higher Education which has lead to an increase in vocational approaches.
In order to break the chain of student debt to uncritical vocational education to industry ready graduates, critical, politically active education must be free and accessible.
The State of Arts Education in the UK
1
The Decline of the Art School
F1
A
SOS believes that Art and Design practice should challenge the status quo. For over a decade following the global financial crisis, design has failed to critique existing socio-economic and structurally unjust systems it operates within, harboured by an educational system intent on providing consumable education and consumable products.
B
Design itself does and should not just serve the needs of capital yet higher education has become a money game with millions levied in fees, government subsidies and corporate sponsorships giving universities a pre-covid surplus of £1.8bn. [1] The Art schools we once relied on for independent expression have now all but been consumed by university conglomerates along with students’ and academic autonomy.
[1]
Tuition fees give England universities surplus worth £1.8bn, The Guardian, Accessed 20.03.21 [Link]
F1
Camberwell College of Arts.University of the Arts London. Photographed in 2018.
2
Consumer Style Higher Education
F1
A
We are facing a systemic crisis in the Arts. The UK Arts have been continually undervalued over ten years of government inaction as schools and universities dismantle a pedagogical approach that taught more than narrowly focused professional education.
B
As overburdened universities move closer to a fully capitalised consumer-style education, the arts have been too easily forgotten as industry and governments lobby for vocational and skills-based courses. [1] The UK government’s recurrent emphasis on STEM subjects has seen the arts squeezed year on year resulting in a crisis from the bottom up in the creative Arts in the UK.
C
Since the removal of Art and Design from school core subjects, the arts have seen a reduction of up to 32% in some GCSE courses.

Press Association (2017) [2]
[1]
As UK government urges creatives to retrain, Stuart Semple reveals his 'Artist Job Centre' in London, Creative Boom, Accessed 20.03.21 [Link]
F1
$135 million landmark new building at Universityof Portsmouth, FBC, December 2019.
3
Accessibility to the Arts
A
Often perceived as leading to poorer career prospects, the well-rounded advantages of an Arts education are failing to reach BAME and working-class students and their families. In the past decade this has seen universities push a vocational style education, reinforcing STEM subjects and ties to industry - narrowing the intellectual scope of education. 
A
Restricting the uptake in the Arts will have long-lasting and damaging effects on one of the world’s leading post-industrial creative industry.
C
Since 2011, the percentage of students taking a subject in the Arts at A-level has never exceeded 14%.

Ofqual (2016) [1]
[1]
An Access HE report, Dr Alberts & Dr Atherton, Accessed 20.03.21 [Link]
Our 3 Foundational Tenets
1
Art and Design should interrogate and confront the socio-economic systems it operates within.
F1
A
Critical design is an underrepresented form of counter – affirmative design, giving space for designers to critique contemporary society through the power of the medium. Education in art and design has been limited to problem solving for the needs of capital, but as designers, we can and should apply our trade to more active, social and political ends.
B
Art and Design has the potential to be something other than the backdrop to the everyday. Uniquely positioned at the junction between culture, politics, technology, the environment and economics it can challenge society, provoking the current unquestioned norms around us.
C
Traditionally, this methodology has been reserved to a select few elite establishments of Higher Education in the UK. SOS aims to demolish this tenet, democratising an active and political way of working and making critical design accessible.
F1
Workers Leaving the Googleplex (2011), Andrew Norman Wilson
2
Art and Design must be free in order to achieve accessibility.
F1
A
Universities today levy vast fees from students and increasingly orientate education toward the market. This model is a vicious cycle ever expanding, reinforcing industry ties and producing market ready uncritical graduates.
B
Architecture students for example exit university with a minimum debt of £50,000, forcing them into industry with no scope to explore the edges of the discipline. As such, Universities must train students to access the industry, in order for them to begin to repay their student debts. This consumeried model of education turns away many from lower socio-economic households and other marginalised groups from a critical form of education.
C
To be truly accessible, education has to be free. Diversity and inclusion in critical, politically active forms of design can only be achieved by dismantling the financial burden. Free education and we free the constraints of design and the industry.
3
A fair and sustainable alternative to Higher Education must be found.
F1
A
An inclusive university model cannot sustain this increase in cost whilst devaluing the importance of critical and non-linear learning in the Arts. If current UK HE cannot offer an unburdened space for free-thinking, then a new model must be found.
B
Where once Arts Schools formed a network of independent expression hard fought by students leaning on the traditions of university free-thought, today we are left with overburdened and bureaucratic monolith super-versities, unable to nurture critical thought and redefine design in an era where it is quickly losing relevance and real world impact.
C
In its final form our flagship SOS_XX programme aims to provide free year-long critical Higher Education level courses.
SOS_21 Course
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