Kate Grogan, MAPH'11
Institutional Relations Associate
Chicago Shakespeare Theater
"I am amazed now by the access I was given to prominent stakeholders in the arts. The same people whom I now address in grant proposals, I heard speak in Cultural Policy workshops."
Jane Hanna, MAPH'11
Social Media Strategist
Field Museum of Natural History
"The connections I was able to make to various movers and shakers in the Chicago cultural field have been absolutely invaluable."
Jennifer Novak-Leonard, MPP'04
"These opportunities propelled my knowledge of the most cutting-edge thinking in the field and built the foundation of my professional network."
David Beeman, MPP'04
Corporate Counsel, Intellectual Property
"My research at the CPC helped me place intellectual property in context, how the law functions as both a form of culture itself and a mechanism for owning and controlling cultural expression."
As the hub for cultural policy studies and research at the University of Chicago, the Cultural Policy Center educates emerging policymakers, cultural practitioners, and scholars. Our interdisciplinary curriculum draws on public policy studies, the humanities, and the social sciences.
In addition to our course offerings, our weekly workshops provide a forum for graduate students to meet visiting scholars and practitioners and to present their own research, and our conferences and guest speakers provide a real-world view of the sector.
Concentrations in cultural policy studies
The Cultural Policy Center does not grant degrees or accept applications for admission. Rather, our courses provide the option of a cultural policy concentration within the University of Chicago’s Master of Arts Program in the Humanities ("MAPH"). Students in other master's programs such as the Master of Public Policy program at the Harris School of Public Policy Studies and the Master of Arts Program in the Social Sciences also can build courses of study in cultural policy within the guidelines of their specific programs, and through consultations with their advisors and with faculty affiliated with the Cultural Policy Center.
A concentration in cultural policy studies is of particular interest to:
- Those seeking careers in public service agencies within the cultural sector, such as foundations or government agencies that support the arts
- Current and emerging leaders of cultural organizations seeking greater understanding of policy issues that confront the sector
- Students seeking to pursue doctoral work with a focus on the policy dimensions of cultural studies, cultural theory, or cultural history
Through a cultural policy concentration, students are introduced to the conceptual frameworks required for cultural policy research, as well as with data sources and other tools commonly used by researchers. They gain an understanding of the features of the cultural sector and the issues it faces, including the structure and dynamics of cultural organizations, funding processes, legal issues such as intellectual property rights and censorship, and changing audiences, among other issues.
Example thesis titles:
- New Technologies: New Ways of Seeing; Smartphone Apps, Art Museums, and Spectatorship
- Curating for Ghosts: The Effects of Foundation and Corporate Philanthropy on the Arts
- The Right to Virtual Heritage
- Clueless in Chicago: Grassroots Art Worlds and Cultural Policy
- Third Place Creation Through Historic Preservation: Antiquated Buildings, Antiquated Policies, and New Alternatives
The following courses are being offered this academic year, but are not guaranteed to be offered every year. See more example courses with their descriptions at our list of previous courses.
The MAPH option requires an introductory course, a research project-based course, and at least two cultural policy-related electives, as well as the Foundations of Interpretive Theory course (the "Core" course) required of all MAPH students and a final thesis on a topic broadly related to cultural policy studies.
Introduction to U.S. Cultural Policy — PPHA 39710
Betty Farrell, Fall 2012
This course provides an overview of U.S. cultural policy, tracing the origins of the arts infrastructure from the late 19th century to the present, with a focus on the shaping of cultural organizations, taste, patronage systems and audiences. Key policy questions for arts and culture include: Is there a public value associated with the arts? who decides what kinds of culture should be provided for and supported?; who pays?; who benefits?; what are the anticipated outcomes of cultural policy? We will investigate a number of contemporary issues, including the viability of the arts as an engine of economic and community development; the challenges of a new and still-shifting cultural landscape for cultural practitioners and participants; and what a robust cultural policy for the U.S. might look like in the future.
Research project-based course in cultural policy:
Hot Button Topics in Cultural Policy — PPHA 39703
Betty Farrell and Jennifer Novak-Leonard, Winter 2013
People participate in the arts in many ways—including attending, consuming, creating, collecting, curating and other means of engaging with art online. But the key data informing policy discussions on arts participation stem from the Survey of Public Participation in the Arts (SPPA), which has been conducted every few years since 1982 by the National Endowment for the Arts, primarily to measure attendance at 7 benchmark arts events (jazz, classical music, opera, musical theater, non-musical theater, ballet, and art museums). There was widespread concern expressed about the state of the arts when the 2008 SPPA reported dramatic declines in attendance. If survey data could capture a broader and more nuanced understanding of arts engagement, would participation rates be substantially higher? What are the implications of an expanded picture of how different demographic cohorts participate in the arts? These are questions with significant policy implications for a wide range of arts organizations and for the NEA, just at the moment when the results of the 2012 SPPA are forthcoming. To address the important policy questions of who participates in the arts? and in what ways?, the 2013 winter quarter class will conduct a pilot study in cooperation with local South Side Chicago arts organizations. Students will have an opportunity to conduct primary research through interviews and development of a survey, to use mixed methods in analyzing the data, and to produce a paper that will be shared publicly with local and national stakeholders in the arts.
The topics for research in PPHA 39703 vary yearly, although the general structure of the course as a seminar and workshop remain the same. View past course descriptions and class reports here.
Problems in International Cultural Policy — PPHA 40410/ENGL 44620
Lawrence Rothfield, Spring 2013
We live in an era of unprecedented global flows of cultural goods both tangible and intangible (artworks, antiquities, dancers and musicians, intellectuals, texts, films, images and ideas), and of unprecedented threats to culture from both market and ideological forces. How are these challenges being addressed by the cultural policies being pursued by states, international organizations, and non-governmental groups? We will focus on three main arenas of international cultural policy: cultural patrimony and restitution issues ranging from the Elgin marbles and Franz Kafka's unpublished papers to international efforts to protect archaeological sites and museums in failed states; initiatives focused on cultural diplomacy/exchange/engagement; and globalization/protectionism of cultural industries and institutions ranging from film and music to museums and universities.
Cultural Economics — PPHA 39600
Don Coursey, Spring 2013
This course is designed to move beyond the values debate of the "culture wars" in order to focus on how culture — here defined as the arts and humanities — can be evaluated analytically as a sector, an object of policy research. In what sense can it be said that there is a "national interest" or "public interest" in culture? What is the rationale for government intervention in or provision for the arts and humanities? Is it possible to define the workings of culture in a way that would permit one to recommend one form of support rather than another, one mode of collaboration or regulation over another? Is it possible to measure the benefits (or costs) — economic, social, political — of culture? We will begin by reading some classic definitions of culture and more recent general policy statements, then address a series of problematic issues that require a combination of theoretical reflection and empirical research.
Art Law — LAWS 79301/ARTH 49500
Anthony Hirschel and William Landes, Spring 2013
Non-Law students by instructor permission only.
This seminar examines legal issues in the visual arts including artist's rights and copyright, government regulation of the art market, valuation problems related to authentication and artist estates, disputes over the ownership of art, illicit international trade of art, government funding of museums and artists, and First Amendment issues as they relate to museums and artists. The basis of the grade will be class participation and three short papers. Writing for this seminar may be used as partial fulfillment of the JD writing requirement (SWP for JD '10; WP for JD '11 and JD '12).
More electives may be added as the University time schedules are updated.