Who We Are

The Alliance for the Arts in Research Universities (a2ru) is a partnership of over forty institutions committed to ensuring the greatest possible institutional support for the full spectrum of arts and arts-integrative research, curricula, programs, and creative practice for the benefit of all students and faculty at research universities and the communities they serve.

The world’s most pressing, complex and open-ended challenges resist singular approaches and resolutions; whether global or local, they will continue to spring from both likely and unlikely sources. With unparalleled scholarly range and depth, the contemporary research university has the distinct capacity to equip faculty and students to confront such challenges with expertise and creative confidence. High quality scholarly and creative production is most attainable when students and faculty are free to experiment within and across their disciplinary boundaries. Research universities that support such exploration through mutually beneficial interdisciplinary approaches spur creative resolutions and meaningful innovations.

For a2ru four-year strategic plan, click here. For a one-page at-a-glance summary, click here.

A world in which universities – students, faculty, and leaders – acknowledge, deeply embed, and seamlessly integrate the arts in the pursuit of basic knowledge and in everyday practice.


The Alliance for the Arts in Research Universities (a2ru) advances the full range of arts-integrative research, curricula, programs, and creative practice to acknowledge, articulate, and expand the vital role of higher education in our global society.


a2ru unifies interdisciplinary efforts by:

  • Researching best practices for arts-integrative interdisciplinary research, curricula and creative practice in research universities
  • Providing venues for presentation, leadership and faculty networking, and dissemination of research and creative scholarship
  • Creating a common lexicon—a consolidation of meanings and terms—that allows already-established research and practice to travel beyond the bounds of specific campuses
  • Advocating for and promoting arts and design practices as fundamental forms of knowledge production applicable to all disciplines

a2ru challenges institutional barriers to interdisciplinary research, curricula and creative practice by:

  • Conducting research to inform public conversation and influence relevant policy
  • Supporting academic leadership at partner institutions through consultation on the structural and organizational dynamics required to launch and/or sustain innovative interdisciplinary efforts
  • Building revolutionary mechanisms to assess arts-integrative interdisciplinary research and curricular impacts

Why Now

Administrations and faculties in higher education continue to seize opportunities presented by rapid changes in technology, culture and economies to transform their work and institutions. Much of this activity has been precipitated by the interplay of arts and design practices with methods and approaches found in scientific and technological disciplines. Although engagement in interdisciplinary research and curricula is becoming a standard practice across the landscape of higher education, a university model precast centuries ago limits the quality and potential of such endeavors in the U.S. context. a2ru enables research universities to make more informed decisions and mitigate risks while engaging in innovative interdisciplinary scholarship, teaching and creative practice.

What Makes a2ru Distinct

a2ru identifies issues and trends in arts-integrative interdisciplinary research, curricula and creative practice and addresses their institutional hurdles. Whereas other organizations focus their energies on the nascence of interdisciplinary inquiry or insufficient funding for the arts, we attend to the critical mass of arts-integrative interdisciplinary efforts that has already emerged and address the next generation of challenges they face. Informed by our partner institutions’ collective successful and unsuccessful pursuits, a2ru conducts research and calls for specific changes to traditional institutional frameworks.

How Partnership Benefits Your Campus

Partnership allows you and your university to remain on the frontlines of relevant developments in higher education. Our committees – all comprised of leadership and faculty from peer institutions – inform a2ru’s initiatives and, consequently, help shape the future of research universities. Partner benefits also include:

  • Access to our research on the impacts of interdisciplinary efforts between the arts, sciences and other disciplines
  • Participation in our active network of academic leadership working to align such efforts within traditional university structures
  • Impact assessment mechanisms for the cutting edge research, curricula and creative practice at your university
  • Consultation of best practices – mobilizing our research to make the spectrum of possibilities legible and applicable to your campus
  • Frameworks and venues to elevate the visibility of your students’ and faculties’ interdisciplinary efforts between the arts, sciences and other disciplines

For details on becoming an a2ru partner, click here.

For a2ru Bylaws, click here.