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Looking Outward

The Looking Outward project is a web based course where music students and alumnis explore their work in the light of other disciplines.

The initiative takers, Miranda Harmer (UK) and Camilla Overgaard (DK), have arranged two CEMPE supported courses since 2021. The duo, who describe themselves as being actively curious, have both made it a central part of their musicianships to seek out collaborations with other disciplines. The Looking Outward project was born out of their mutual wish to inspire music students and alumni to do the same. Throughout the course, the participants have gained insights from other specialisms ways of thinking and working, including product design and experience economy, with the aim of transferring skills to their own musical practice.

Thank you for doing this! This is a great concept which I've used personally to deepen my own understanding of my art."

Looking Outward participant November 2021


The course draws inspiration from thoughts presented by the creative entrepreneur Frans Johansson. In his book «The Medici Effect» (2004) he describes how stepping into the intersections between different fields and disciplines can lead to extraordinary insights and innovative ideas.

Johansson has named the phenomenon the Medici effect, after a powerful Italian bank family in Firenze. During the 13th century they gave support to a wide array of creators from different disciplines. This drew sculpturers, scientists, poets, philosophers, artists and architects towards Firenze where they took part in collaborations, learned from one another and broke down the barriers between their different cultures. As a result, Firenze became an epicenter for a creative explosion – often referred to as one of the most innovative eras in history (The Medici Effect, p. 3).

One of the main objectives for Looking Outward has been to help the participants towards acheiving the Medici effect themselves, by challenging them to be actively curious and consciously seeking new perspectives, new knowledge, and collaborations with people from diverse backgrounds, cultures and disciplines. Considering curiosity as a skill which can and should be encouraged and developed in higher music education has been one of the main messages of the course.

"When one discovers the similarities and symmetries between the different fields of the human experience and the plethora of our creations, we manage to seam together and cross-link synapses; the tools of creation and curiosity are interdisciplinary and we should utilize whatever tools we pick up wherever we find them."

Participant at Looking Outward November 2021

Course content

The structure of the two courses has been slightly different, but the overall themes have been the same. The participants have had web based tuitions in mind design, product design and experience economy, followed by workshops where they have further dived into the subjects from each session and tried to connect them to their own practice. In the workshops, the facilitators used the web based collaborative tool MIRO. Between the sessions, the platform Microsoft Teams was used to strengthen the feeling of community between the participants. They used it for having discussions, sharing inspiring books, podcasts and so on. Teams was also were the course content was shared and where the participants delivered assignments.

Really enjoyed the entire course and especially meeting everyone.

Looking Outward participant November 2021

Looking inwards before looking outwards

In order to support the participants with challenging their habits, exploring mind design has been an important part of the course. The former philosophy professor John Haugeland explains the term in his book “Mind Design II: Philosophy, Psychology, and Artificial Intelligence” (1997) as an attempt at understanding the mind (the thinking, the intellect) based on its design (how it is built, how it works). Vourneen Ryan (IE) who’s a performance coach and active partner in the project led the session on mind design.

The idea behind the session was to give the participants an insight into how the human mindset, our habits and curiosity works, and open them up for the next theme of the course, which had no obvious connections to music. The next session was about product design for software, while the last session was about experience economy. The different themes became gradually more relatable for the participants throughout the course, culminating in a lecture from an interdisciplinary artist and entrepreneur about curiousity.

If you would like to know more about Looking Outward, you can read the full report through this link. You can also reach out to Mimi Harmer and Camilla Overgaard through their e-mail address

Iannis Xenakis lectured music to his architecture students and architecture to his music students, both at a university level, for exactly this purpose. Keep it going!

Looking Outward participant November 2021


The Looking Outward Team

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Published: Jun 23, 2021 — Last updated: Jan 24, 2023