You do not have to be in a specific program option while in MAPH, but many students find program options a useful way to develop their interests during the year. Even those of you who are not in the option might want to check out the cultural policy course options and workshop sessions if you think you might want to work for cultural organizations.
Incoming MAPHers interested in working in the arts sector, or going on for doctoral work involving the policy aspects of cultural studies, should look into the resources at the Cultural Policy Center. The CPC is an interdisciplinary research center that is situated in the Harris School of Public Policy and the independent research organization NORC, but it has strong ties to the Humanities Division, and MAPH in particular. It focuses on three activities: research; public programming; and teaching, including overseeing the Cultural Policy Studies MAPH option.
Cultural Policy Studies MAPH option
The cultural policy option is of particular interest to MAPH students who are considering careers in cultural organizations; in public service agencies within the cultural sector, such as foundations or government agencies that support the arts; or doctoral work with a focus on the policy dimensions of cultural studies, cultural theory, or cultural history.
It 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.
- Sample course list and past thesis titles
- Alumna profile: Jane Hanna, MAPH’11, Social Media Strategist, Field Museum of Natural History
- Alumna profile: Kate Grogan, MAPH’11, Institutional Relations Associate, Chicago Shakespeare Theater
The Cultural Policy Center’s workshops mix theory and practice: speakers include practitioners as well as academics, and the events always draw visitors from cultural organizations around the city as well as students from several different academic divisions. (Students don’t have to be in the MAPH option to attend the workshops.) See a list of past workshops, and some videos, here.
In addition to its events and curriculum, the CPC conducts its own research, and the biggest research project in its history was released this summer. Set in Stone is a study of a major building boom of museums, performing arts centers, and theaters in the United States from 1994 to 2008. Among the discoveries:
- Cities in the South had the greatest increase in cultural buildings. The region had lagged behind the rest of the country prior to the building boom — the Northeast and West had twice the number of cultural facilities per capita in 1990 than did the South.
- More than 80 percent of the projects studied ran over budget, some by as much as 200 percent.
- Smaller cities with fewer than 500,000 people were building as well, and many of these cities were building for the first time.
- More performing arts centers were built than any other kind of arts facility.
- There is substantial evidence that there was overinvestment during the building boom—especially when coupled with the number of organizations that experienced financial difficulties post-building.
- Set in Stone website (includes summary and videos)
- New York Times coverage: “For Arts Institutions, Thinking Big Can Be Suicidal”
Connect with the Cultural Policy Center by signing up for their mailing list.
Have questions? Contact the CPC’s assistant director, Will Anderson, MAPH’09, at email@example.com.