7.6Artistic research and the PhD in the arts

By Florian Vanlee (Vrije Universiteit Brussel).

Due to the implementation of reforms required by the 1999 Bologna Declaration on the harmonization of the  European Higher Education Area – colloquially dubbed the Bologna Process, research practices have in past decades become increasingly central to European tertiary arts education. This is exemplified by the introduction of BA and MA programs, for which the demonstration of research competences in some form is a prominent demand, but the most visible outcome of the entry of inquiry to the repertoire of higher arts education is certainly the PhD in the arts. Granting doctoral titles based on artistic research officiated its entry to the scholarly sector, kickstarting often heated discussions about the arts’ epistemic claims to knowledge production and the methodological arguments for endorsing them.

Even though artistic research has now maintained a formal presence in the European research landscape for over twenty years, factual descriptions of its practices and outcomes remain scarce – obscuring its trajectory and development. Outlining the institutional context of formal artistic research in Flanders and discussing insights derived from an exhaustive database listing all defended Flemish doctorates in the arts since 2006, the present dossier addresses this lack by mapping the domestic landscape and the conditions artistic research takes place in.