Alliance for the Arts in Research Universities (a2ru)

*For more information on all programs, research, and alliance, visit the a2ru website*

Annual National Conference
Arts in the Public Sphere: Civility Advocacy, and Engagement
November 1-4, 2017
Boston, MA
Hosted by Northeastern University; Co-Hosts: Boston University, MIT, Tufts University

The 2017 theme, Arts in the Public Sphere: Civility, Advocacy, and Engagement, will use the city of Boston as a starting point for discussion and engagement surrounding creative placemaking. As a 21st century global city, Boston embodies many of the issues that drive diverse contemporary cultural contexts. It supports a rich and continually evolving sense of civic realms, and is home to leading arts, educational, medical, industrial, and corporate entities invested in innovative modes of research, practice, and civic participation. There is also clear recognition that the ‘public sphere’ is not confined to large metropolitan regions. Creating dynamic communities that engage and extend beyond traditional boundaries – in both virtual and material ways – remains a growing challenge and the work before us.

Throughout history, artists, musicians, and designers have been catalysts for civic engagement and social change. Creative placemaking brings the cultural sector into strategic collaboration with sectors more traditionally engaged in urban planning and development, such as transportation and housing. It is a strategic effort by governmental, commercial, nonprofit, civic, and philanthropic stakeholders to position the cultural sector as a crucial component of holistic, place-based planning in the United States. This holistic planning is intended to result in more equitable policy decisions and improved general well-being of all residents.

Additional information about the 2017 conference, including registration and link to apply for student travel grants available on the conference website.


Emerging Creatives Student Summit
Food and Place
February 7-10, 2019
Hosted by James Madison University

This year’s theme is Food and PlaceFood is the common language of life. Across the world, people use it to establish and maintain relationships and to celebrate important events. Food also frequently takes on a symbolic dimension in culture, representing everything from love to social status. Differing approaches to its production and consumption profoundly affect our economic systems, public health, and climate. Our connection to food is multi-faceted, inspiring a wide range of creative works.

This summit will be hosted by James Madison University, which is located at the center of the Shenandoah Valley, a diverse community long-defined by food production, from family-run farms to large-scale commercial agriculture. This event brings together students from a variety of disciplines to work on projects that consider the relationship between food and place. The summit will feature panels and working group leadership from distinguished professors at James Madison University, as well as leading artists and scholars from around the country.

Find information and application for the summit on the a2ru website.


Supporting Practice in Arts, Research, and Curricula (SPARC) Knowledge Engine

a2ru is pleased to report the first release of the SPARC Knowledge Engine, a searchable index of interview responses and a data platform for insights about the cultures of research, the arts, and the future of higher education. The SPARC Knowledge Engine is a project of a2ru, generously supported by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, and designed to advance new knowledge and exploration across the arts, research, and higher education. 


a2ru Research, Tools, and Insights

The purpose of a2ru’s research is to 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. These means that we articulate, clarify, and prioritize key research questions, assemble evidence, apply dedicated and rigorous methods, synthesize insights from across nascent domains and practices, and organize participatory experiences as opportunities to engage with the results. 

Find links to whitepapers, workshops, insights, tools, and additional resources on the a2ru website.