15 May 2014 11:02

Pupils from a Lancaster school have become the first to benefit from a new cultural partnership between The Dukes and Lancaster University.

The partnership aims to enrich the city’s cultural life by providing services, opportunities and education to people in Lancaster using the arts.

Six classes from Central Lancaster High School worked with The Dukes Centre for Creative Learning on Crossing The Line, a 2014 twist on the Blue-Eyed, Brown-Eyed exercise devised by an American teacher and pioneer of diversity training.

The project, which caused controversy when introduced in the 1960s, challenges discrimination and was originally created shortly after the assassination of Martin Luther King.

It involved designating one group superior to the other according to eye colour. The ‘superior’ group was given certain privileges, sat apart from the other and was told to ignore them.

Within days friends were turning against one another and the exercise was reversed to monitor how the ‘inferior’ group reacted when they were given privileges.

Crossing The Line saw pupils create their own ‘society’ where classes were divided into groups according to certain skills such as being able to stand on one leg. Privileges were given to one group and not another to monitor the pupils attitudes and their reactions were filmed.

Creative Learning Director, Guy Christiansen, said: “We had an amazing reaction to this project. Young people were talking about how they’d really changed their minds about prejudice and standing up for themselves.”

Welcoming the new partnership, Vice Chancellor of Lancaster University Professor Mark E. Smith said: “We are very proud of Lancaster and by funding work to engage young people with the arts we are investing in the city’s vibrant cultural life.”