Cultural investigations.
Hybrid specializations.

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Global Arts and Cultures

Critical studies for art, design and research

Art and culture today face urgent challenges posed by accelerated global movement of bodies, information and commodities, the datafication of labor and social relations, and the seemingly perpetual eruption of political and ecological crises.

RISD’s MA program in Global Arts and Cultures (GAC) invites inquiry into pressing contemporary issues at the intersection of globalization and cultural production. By uniting critical theories from the humanities and social sciences with studies in the history and theory of visual, design, performative and literary arts, students in the program investigate diverse forms of making and their entanglements with systems of power and resistance.

Cultivating critical perspectives

The GAC MA program provides a strong foundation in social and cultural theory for artists, designers and architects, as well as students pursuing work in museums and galleries, creative industries, activism, policy making, entrepreneurship and academic research and teaching. In acquiring new cultural and political literacies, students gain the capacity to speak to multiple audiences, intervene in current debates and navigate global systems.

The curriculum is designed to establish frameworks for critical inquiry and develop individually tailored research projects. Core courses survey current theoretical discourses, explore research methods across and beyond traditional disciplines, and provide guided thesis preparation. Electives expose students to topics in the history of global art and design, literature, performance, and visual and material cultures. In close consultation with faculty mentors, students devise research projects that culminate in the completion of a master’s thesis based on original investigation, critical and historical analysis, and innovative forms of written and visual communication.

Liberal arts at RISD

RISD stands out among art schools for its emphasis on the importance of studies in the Liberal Arts. Comprised of four academic departments, the Liberal Arts division provides students with a strong foundation in the humanities and social sciences.

Faculty are recognized experts in their fields who challenge disciplinary assumptions and constantly discover new ways to innovate in both research and teaching. They come from around the world and frequently collaborate with studio artists and designers as well as with their colleagues teaching in a wide range of humanities and social science disciplines. In the classroom they encourage students to take risks, experiment with intellectual hybridity and produce work infused with meaning and relevance.