Call for Papers: PhD in Art and Design
Ken Friedman, PhD, DSc (hc), FDRS, is Chair Professor of Design Innovation Studies at Tongji University; University Distinguished Professor at Swinburne University; and Adjunct Professor at James Cook University.
Jack Ox, PhD, MFA, Research Fellow at ART/SCI Lab, ATEC, UTDallas Research Associate with the Center for Advanced Research Computing (CARC) University of New Mexico.
In 2017 Leonardo celebrated 50 years of publishing work and research at the intersection of art, science and technology. As part of the celebrations, we are initiating a 3-year symposium that will address issues surrounding the development of the PhD in Art and Design.
Today, universities around the world are debating this issue. While the MFA is a terminal degree for professional practice, the PhD is a research degree—the doctor of philosophy. The debate began in the U.K. when independent art and design schools were merged with universities or raised to university status. This led to the question of equivalent standards for academic appointment to once-separate programs within now-unified universities. Universities in Europe, Asia, Australia and North America have now joined the conversation by establishing new PhD programs or initiating serious debates on whether—and how—to build them.
The question of the PhD for art and design raises many challenging issues. First among these is the nature of research, research training and the PhD. This issue may seem obvious to those who have earned a PhD in the natural sciences, social sciences or liberal arts, but it remains a complicated issue to address in understanding the PhD for art and design. What is the PhD in art? What is the PhD in design? What should a PhD be in a field of professional practice? Should there be several kinds of PhD in art and design or one major model? Why pursue such a degree? What is the nature of such a PhD with respect to research quality as distinct from the quality of art or design practice? Why are so many programs struggling or going wrong? Why do universities and accrediting authorities permit problematic programs to continue? Why, in the past, did artists interested in research choose to take a PhD in disciplines outside art? Are there specific skills all researchers require without respect to their discipline? These are questions to consider, and there are people who have something to say about them, including experienced supervisors. With this symposium, we are reaching out to those with solid experience in doctoral education to draw on their skills and wisdom.
The fresh debate on the PhD for art and design taking place in North American universities has global implications. This debate makes it imperative to consider the different models of doctoral education elsewhere in the world. Is it reasonable to earn a PhD for a practice-based thesis with an artifact or an exhibition in place of the thesis, accompanied by an essay of 20,000 words? Should doctoral programs admit students to research training programs without undergraduate experience in such key skills as analysis, rhetoric, logic or mathematics? Can undergraduate art and design students with a focus on studio skills hope to succeed in doctoral work when they have had little or no experience in the kinds of information seeking or writing that form the basis for earning a research degree? Is it possible to award PhD degrees for skills and capacities completely different from those in any established research field? In North America, an exhibition of artifacts with a short thesis is the basis for awarding an MFA degree; in the U.K. and Australia and at some European art schools, this is the basis for awarding a PhD. Is it possible to merge these two traditions?
The SEAD and STEAM Challenge
One of the specific challenges we face internationally is finding new ways to enable collaboration between science and engineering with the arts, design and the humanities (SEAD). The United States National Science Foundation funded a SEAD study highlighting a number of international developments and best practices that inevitably will influence the question of the PhD in art and design. One of the areas in this study was the emerging discussion on “STEM to STEAM.”
Call for Papers
The PhD for art and design has become a significant issue in worldwide university education. As the world’s oldest peer-reviewed interdisciplinary journal for the arts, sciences and technology, Leonardo has a responsibility to serve as a forum for the conversation. This symposium is our contribution to the emerging dialogue on this issue in North America and around the world.
We seek several kinds of contributions to a 3-year symposium on the PhD in art and design.
- First, we seek full-length peer-reviewed articles for publication in the Leonardo addressing key issues concerning the PhD in art and design.
- Second, we seek significant reports, research studies and case studies. Since these will be longer than journal articles, we will review them for journal publication as extended abstracts with references, and we will publish the full documents on the Leonardo website.
- Finally, we will welcome Letters to the Editors in response to published articles and to the documents on the website.
Proposals and Inquiries
Interested authors should submit inquiries to Jack Ox.
Articles to Date
The first five articles in the symposium are available open access from the MIT Press. They are:
- MEREDITH DAVIS: Confronting the Limitations of the MFA as Preparation for PhD Study (Just Accepted)
- LINDA CANDY and ERNEST EDMONDS: Practice-Based Research in the Creative Arts: Foundations and Futures from the Front Line (51:1)
- DIANE ZEEUW: The Devlopment and Evolution of the Creative Arts Practice-led PhD at the University of Melbourne, Victorian College of the Arts (50:5)
- VIRGINIA MAKSYMOWICZ and BLAISE TOBIA: An Alternative Approach to Establishing a Studio Doctorate in Fine Art (50:5)
- KEN FRIEDMAN and JACK OX: PhD in Art and Design: Introduction (50:5)