A delegation of faculty and students representing Harvard’s graduate-level work in the arts recently traveled to Paris for an intensive exchange with colleagues at the arts/research PhD program within Université Paris Sciences et Lettres (PSL), a new consortium of nine top-level French academic institutions with ten associate members. Our trip was a follow-up to the October 2017 Art as Research: A Transatlantic Dialogue in which Harvard and SACRe students and program directors presented at Harvard’s Carpenter Center for the Visual Arts.
PSL’s SACRe Doctoral Program (Sciences, Arts, Creation, Research) shares similar goals and scope with Critical Media Practice, Harvard’s secondary field for PhD students. Both programs aim to integrate art-making with scholarly research at the graduate level and require students to produce both a written dissertation and an artistic project.
Our hosts planned a fascinating and packed program that involved events at all five of SACRe’s partner schools, which are spread throughout Paris. Each institution’s administrative leaders welcomed us and led a tour of their beautiful and historic facilities. Several schools also arranged for us to observe classes, exhibitions, rare musical instruments, robotics demonstrations, and hidden art pieces.
For us the heart of the visit was the Harvard and SACRe student presentations. Fourteen students each had about 30 minutes to introduce and show their work followed by questions and responses from faculty and other students.
The students in both programs span a continuum from artists whose work will find its place in the art world to scholars who use artistic practices to conduct or present their research. The most exciting projects truly unite artmaking and research. These were some of the highlights:
The exchange was a fantastic opportunity to interact with a consortium of world-class institutions who have launched a program with goals very similar to those of Harvard’s CMP field. Their faculty and students seem steeped in the same kinds of inquiry as ours and were impressed by our students’ stellar examples of true arts-based research.