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Professor of Autonomy in Art, Design and Technology, St Joost Art Academy, Avans University of Applied Sciences

Sebastian Olma is an Amsterdam-based author, critic and occasional policy advisor with a critical view on the creative industries. Professor Olma leads the Research Group Autonomy in Art, Design and Technology at Avans University of Applied Sciences. Professor Olma began his academic career by pursuing interdisciplinary studies in the social sciences and humanities at universities in Germany and the US. He earned a PhD from the Centre for Cultural Studies, Goldsmiths College, University of London, in 2007 with a dissertation analysing creativity and power under contemporary capitalism. He conducted a number of academic research projects on art and the creative industries. Then he started a consultancy in Amsterdam, where he conducted research into the development of the creative sector in several European countries. The autonomy of art was a key element in these studies.
Professor Olma worked as a researcher in the Network Cultures research group at Amsterdam University of Applied Sciences. As a lecturer at the University of Amsterdam, he guided PhD researchers performing critical examinations of the creative industries. His latest book, In Defence of Serendipity: For a Radical Politics of Innovation was published by Repeater Books, London in 2016. In it, he explores radical strategies of social innovation – specifically those that transcend conventional definitions of creativity and innovation. He regularly participates in debates on the role of art and design in social innovation processes. He also advises policymakers on the differences between artistic autonomy and creative entrepreneurship. The exploration of these differences is an important aspect of his academic projects.
As a professor of Autonomy in Art, Design and Technology, Olma investigates with teachers and students how the concept of autonomy in contemporary art and design practice can be revived in a modern way. He works with the teachers and students of AKV|St.Joost and Avans’ Communication & Multimedia Design courses to give shape to the concept and practice of autonomy in research and education.


  • –present
    Professor of Autonomy in Art, Design and Technology, St Joost Art Academy, Avans University of Applied Sciences