a2ru Research

The purpose of a2ru’s research is clarify, define, and highlight how the arts (including fine and performing arts and design) impact knowledge production and teaching in research universities for systematic public benefit. 

We articulate, clarify, and priortize key research questions, assemble evidence, apply dedicated and rigourous methods, and synthesize insights from across nascent domains and practices.

a2ru’s research methodology is primarily influenced by the social sciences, but it’s methods are drawn from many different and complementary disciplines, including the arts. a2ru's research aims to make experimentation and invention in the arts explicit, codified, and replicable for extension and use by others.

Key Research Outcomes

  • Patterns and Practices for Unifying the Arts with Teaching and Research
  • Definition and Clarity Around Research, Development, and Knowledge Production in the Arts
  • Identifying and Summarizing the Benefits of Arts-Driven Teaching and Research
  • New Models for Describing and Characterizing Arts-Integrative Research Outcomes
  • Documentation and Comparisons of Arts-Integrative Projects and Activities 
  • Synthesis of Emerging Fields and Domain Activities to Reveal New Forms of Cultural Production
  • Tools and Resources for Activating Projects, Programs, and Collaborative Teamwork
  • New Methods for Managing and Analyzing Open-Ended Interview Responses in the Social Sciences

Brief Background and History
a2ru’s research efforts first began as an outcome of a 2011 “Michigan Meeting”. Its purpose, “The Role of Art-Making and the Arts in the Research University,” was to recognize and advance research university support for art-making and the arts. 150 presidents, provosts, deans, directors, and other faculty and administrative leaders from 41 Research 1 universities across the United States attended. Research, advocacy, curriculur, and co-curricular task-forces then synthesized key question, setting the stage for a2ru's research future. 

In 2012, a2ru received a round of seed funding for its research from the The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, aimed at supporting the creation of the first comprehensive guide to best practices in the integration of the arts in U.S. research universities. The resulting collection of interviews surveys faculty, students, and administrators and explores definition, models, obstacles, implementation strategies, costs, and impacts of arts-integrative practices on research and teaching in higher education.

In 2015, additional support from Mellon launched the SPARC Project: Supporting Practice in Arts, Research and Curricula, a three-year initiative that will allow a2ru to cross-pollinate and disseminate research insights across its network.