7.6.3Flemish PhDs in the arts since 2006

At the time of writing (cf. Spring 2021), 146 artistic PhD projects have been successfully defended1 in Flanders, and every School of Arts now boasts several finished doctoral trajectories. But the consolidation of arts-based inquiry in the form of awarded doctorates has differed across institutions. Where some Schools of Arts produced several PhDs in the years immediately after the first was awarded by KU Leuven in 2006 (see Table 1), other institutions like PXL-MAD (cf. 2013), KASK (cf. 2012) or RITCS (cf. 2015) delivered their first completed doctoral projects considerably later (see Table 1).

Table 1: Distribution of defended PhDs in the arts in Flanders 2006-2021 (N=146)

SCHOOL OF ARTSKASKConservatoriumKASKAKCASint-Lucas AntwerpenLUCA School of ArtsPXL MADKCBRITCSTOTAL
HOGESCHOOLHoGentHoGentAPAPKdGn.v.t.PXLEHBEHB
UNIVERSITEITUGentUGentUAntwerpenUAntwerpenUAntwerpenKULeuvenUHasseltVUBVUB
20060000010001
20070000000101
20080010100002
20090002000103
20100020020004
20110000020103
201244111500016
20132100001004
201414210123013
201550200062116
201622212402015
201720211122011
201810022701316
201900312273119
202000550204014
20210100110104
N.D.0000000101
Total17122014102818225146
SCHOOL OF ARTSKASKConservatoriumKASKAKCASint-Lucas AntwerpenLUCA School of ArtsPXL MADKCBRITCSTOTAL
HOGESCHOOLHoGentHoGentAPAPKdGn.v.t.PXLEHBEHB
UNIVERSITEITUGentUGentUAntwerpenUAntwerpenUAntwerpenKULeuvenUHasseltVUBVUB
20060000010001
20070000000101
20080010100002
20090002000103
20100020020004
20110000020103
201244111500016
20132100001004
201414210123013
201550200062116
201622212402015
201720211122011
201810022701316
201900312273119
202000550204014
20210100110104
N.D.0000000101
Total17122014102818225146
SCHOOL OF ARTSKASKConservatoriumKASKAKCASint-Lucas AntwerpenLUCA School of ArtsPXL MADKCBRITCSTOTAL
HOGESCHOOLHoGentHoGentAPAPKdGn.v.t.PXLEHBEHB
UNIVERSITEITUGentUGentUAntwerpenUAntwerpenUAntwerpenKULeuvenUHasseltVUBVUB
20060000010001
20070000000101
20080010100002
20090002000103
20100020020004
20110000020103
201244111500016
20132100001004
201414210123013
201550200062116
201622212402015
201720211122011
201810022701316
201900312273119
202000550204014
20210100110104
N.D.0000000101
Total17122014102818225146

With 44 defended doctorates in the arts, the UAntwerpen association has clearly taken a forefront in artistic research in Flanders in the past fifteen years – accounting for a third of all Flemish PhDs in the arts since 2006.

UGent and KULeuven each represent roughly 20% of the total, VUB and UHasselt for 17% and 13% respectively (see Figure 3).

Clearly then, the distribution of PhDs in the arts across Flemish university associations does not reflect their relative size.

Figure 3: University association share of PhDs in the arts in Flanders 2006-2021 (N=146)

UAntwerpenUGentKULeuvenVUBUHasselt4429282718 UAntwerpenUGentKULeuvenVUBUHasselt4429282718 UAntwerpenUGentKULeuvenVUBUHasselt4429282718

In collaboration with Schools of Arts KCA, KASKA and Sint-Lucas Antwerpen, the UAntwerpen association also boasts the highest disciplinary variety in the doctorates it has awarded in the past fifteen years (see Figure 4; Table 2).

Presumably, this is brought by the fact that the UAntwerpen association includes three distinct institutions for higher arts education, which had already developed a distinct artistic identity vis-à-vis one another before their formal association with UAntwerpen.

Figure 4: Artistic disciplines in PhDs in the arts in Flanders 2006-2021 (N=146)

AudiovisualConservationCraft DesignCreative WritingDramaExhibition DesignFashion DesignGraphic DesignMixed MediaMusicPerformancePhotographyProduct DesignUrban DesignVisual Arts051015202530354045Amount of PhDsUAntwerpenUGentKULeuvenUHasseltVUBUniversity051015202530354045UAntwerpenUGentKULeuvenUHasseltVUBVisual Arts: 14 AudiovisualConservationCraft DesignCreative WritingDramaExhibition DesignFashion DesignGraphic DesignMixed MediaMusicPerformancePhotographyProduct DesignUrban DesignVisual Arts010203040Amount of PhDsUAntwerpenUGentKULeuvenUHasseltVUBUniversity010203040UAntwerpenUGentKULeuvenUHasseltVUB AudiovisualConservationCraft DesignCreative WritingDramaExhibition DesignFashion DesignGraphic DesignMixed MediaMusicPerformancePhotographyProduct DesignUrban DesignVisual Arts010203040Amount of PhDsUAntwerpenUGentKULeuvenUHasseltVUBUniversity010203040UAntwerpenUGentKULeuvenUHasseltVUB

Table 2: Artistic disciplines in PhDs in the arts in Flanders 2006-2021 (N=146)

DisciplinesUAntwerpenUGentKULeuvenUHasseltVUBTotal
Audiovisual Arts1511412
Conservation010001
Craft Design000505
Creative Writing120003
Drama120014
Exhibition Design100001
Fashion Design110002
Graphic Design111205
Mixed Media6286022
Music139902253
Performance200002
Photography322007
Product Design001001
Urban Design010001
Visual Arts14364027
Total4429281827146
DisciplinesUAntwerpenUGentKULeuvenUHasseltVUBTotal
Audiovisual Arts1511412
Conservation010001
Craft Design000505
Creative Writing120003
Drama120014
Exhibition Design100001
Fashion Design110002
Graphic Design111205
Mixed Media6286022
Music139902253
Performance200002
Photography322007
Product Design001001
Urban Design010001
Visual Arts14364027
Total4429281827146
DisciplinesUAntwerpenUGentKULeuvenUHasseltVUBTotal
Audiovisual Arts1511412
Conservation010001
Craft Design000505
Creative Writing120003
Drama120014
Exhibition Design100001
Fashion Design110002
Graphic Design111205
Mixed Media6286022
Music139902253
Performance200002
Photography322007
Product Design001001
Urban Design010001
Visual Arts14364027
Total4429281827146

The Universitaire Associatie Brussel stands out as the association with the lowest disciplinary variety – delivering doctoral titles in Audiovisual Arts, Drama and Music exclusively (see Figure 4; Table 2), but is very prominent in the disciplines it is active in (cf. 33,3% of PhDs in Audiovisual Arts and 42,5% of PhDs in Music – see Table 2). This, again, relates to the particular background of the Schools of Arts included in the association. With one institution devoted to music (cf. KCB) and another to stage and media arts (cf. RITCS), the artistic disciplines represented by the doctoral titles granted reflects the composition of the VUB association. Similarly, the existence of PhDs focused on Craft Design, for instance, is brought by the specific artistic expertise already present at Schools of Arts (in this case PXL-MAD, see Figure 4) before association. Insofar artistic research in Flanders involves both universities and Schools of Arts, the PhD trajectories that have been finalized until this point indicate that their substance depends mostly on the latter category of institutions.

Music stands out as the most prominent artistic discipline research takes place in in Flanders – accounting for more than a third of all PhDs in the arts since 2006 (cf. 36,3% – see Table 2). Presumably, this is related to the ‘academic’ tradition that already existed in the conservatories and other institutions for tertiary arts education before the academiseringsproces. Other than their counterparts in the fine arts, these institutions and their staff were always been at least peripherally involved in scholarly fields like musicology and music historiography. This, in turn, is a likely explanation for the strong historical interest found in many doctoral projects in music. Design disciplines, conversely, tend to be less numerously represented in Flemish PhDs in the arts, with Craft Design (3,4%), Fashion Design (1,3%) and Graphic Design (3,4%) accounting for a minimal portion of the total. Presumably, this relates to the fact that design disciplines were previously situated on the professional end of higher art education. Design disciplines’ historical focus on practical solutions and outcomes combined with their emphasis on craftsmanship has ostensibly rendered the introduction of investigative practices less self-evident. But their gradual increase over recent years does demonstrate how artistic disciplines centred on design are developing productive modes of engaging with research activities.

 

1 This figure includes internal defences, and due to the nature of artistic research – which often requires physical presence to fully appreciate the outcomes of inquiry – many public defences scheduled for the 2020-2021 academic year have been postponed because of the COVID-19 pandemic and the ensuing measures.