The PhD is designed for entrepreneurial self-starters who seek to break ground and invent new fields through hybrid and integrated approaches to knowledge creation. Four pillars of excellence are emphasized within a research culture:
- Engaging with the nature of human experience through innovative, interdisciplinary approaches to design
- Investigating new forms of digital media and data-driven communication across diverse disciplines
- Articulating how creativity can embrace connections between artistic practices, innovation, entrepreneurship, and research
- Connecting with changing forms of technology and media to foster shared experiences and exchange within local and global communities
The PhD is unique in its focus on practice-based research or scholarship applied to or conducted through making or creation. This is an emerging area that has been applied internationally to a wide range of creative fields and industries, many of which are represented within the College of Arts, Media and Design: music, theatre, design, studio art, games, architecture, journalism, and others. It differs from other forms of knowledge creation in that it rigorously cultivates the creation of artifacts as a mode of producing new knowledge, theories, and methodologies.
Practice-based research integrates fields such as creativity and cognition or human-computer interaction to understand how practice operates, to enact that knowledge in practical applications, and to use the acts of creation themselves as a research methodology. PhD students will be encouraged to conduct their research in—and in some cases create—”living labs” embedded in real-world contexts and through on- and off-campus research partnerships.
The PhD degree program is composed of a common core and pathways of specialization. The core is centered around three areas: design research, which provides a methodology for understanding the ways design and media touch every aspect of daily life at every level of society; ethical practice, which engages with the humanistic concerns of design and cultural production; and experiential learning, which offers students the opportunity to produce research and conduct fieldwork with partner organizations.
Specialized pathways, customized according to the program of study as approved by the PhD advisors and vetted by external experts, include:
- Information design and visualization
- Design research
- Creative research