Most people in the higher education art and design world get an MFA as a terminal degree. Is there a need for a PhD in art and design?
That was the question being discussed at a conference in New York called "Evolution: Art and Design Research and the PhD". The participants explored how research is defined and in what ways it might shape a doctoral degree in a field where artists and designers are more often rooted in creative practice.
Parsons The New School for Design and Sydney College of the Arts (SCA), the University of Sydney, sponsored Evolution: Art and Design Research and the PhD, a two-day conference on October 22-23, which brought together an international roster of artists, designers, and scholars to envision new models for academic research in art and design.
Parsons The New School for Design is based in New York but active around the world. Sydney College of the Arts (SCA), the Visual Arts Faculty of the University of Sydney, has been leading the research and practice of contemporary art in Australia since 1976.
The conference opened a dialogue about the role of a practice-based PhD in art and design, an idea that is slowly gaining traction in the United States, as Parsons considers developing one. Through lectures, panel discussions, faculty presentations, and breakout sessions, they explored the wide range of practices utilized by visionary artists and designers in the context of advanced research practice and PhD programs. Throughout the conference, attendees addressed the sociocultural, political, and technological issues in the current doctoral landscape.
The conference featured keynote speeches by Bill Gaver, head of the design PhD program at Goldsmiths, University of London, and Sara Diamond, president of Ontario College of Art and Design. Meredith Davis, head of the interdisciplinary PhD program at North Carolina State University and a leading advocate for American design research, called for more design PhD programs in the United States. Her program is one of only a handful in the U.S. that offer a PhD in design while there are dozens of such programs in other countries.
The conference was streamed online for those who couldn't attend in person and you can see videos from the conference by clicking on the heading above.