MA in Art & Social Engagement

This program will prepare candidates seeking to facilitate socially-engaged art experiences with the critical, historical, practical and ethical skills needed to work in complex community settings.

Candidates will study under the guidance and direction of experts currently working on socially-engaged projects in the public sphere. Beginning in the first term, a six-week summer intensive, candidates will have access to Philadelphia’s vibrant community of culturally diverse practitioners and projects through Moore’s partnership with the City of Philadelphia Mural Arts Program. Candidates will work collaboratively to analyze the intersections of contemporary art and society in a course taught by Jane Golden, Mural Arts’ Executive Director, and members of her staff.  In the next two terms, candidates will work independently in their respective communities or a community of choice conducting research to critically assess and examine roles of collaboration and positive change. 

With faculty oversight, mentorship and peer review throughout the program, candidates benefit from the exchange of ideas in shared courses with the MFA in Community Practice program and participate in a culminating symposium event in collaboration with Mural Arts.


This program is ideal for someone working in a museum, the nonprofit arts administration sector or as an independent writer or curator interested in developing the knowledge and skillset needed to work effectively with communities on socially engaged art projects. This program is for candidates who want to learn how to analyze multiple cultural, economic and political factors within a community through close readings, meeting community members and independent research.  Candidates will gain the knowledge to successfully apply project planning, facilitation and advocacy that they can bring back to their organization or use to develop new community-based projects. 

“The Mural Arts/Moore partnership will provide a springboard to Philadelphia, which is uniquely poised to be a laboratory for innovative, collaborative learning for socially engaged creative practice. Starting in summer 2015, opportunities like the planned co-hosted symposium and public convening with artists, curators and community activists will further expose students to influential thought leaders and current trends in socially engaged, community practice on a local and global scale.” Dona Lantz, Academic Dean


• Community Leaders
• Writers
• Activists
• Curators
• Students with backgrounds in Liberal Arts
• Art Administrators
• Museum employees
• Educators

This program encourages a critical place-based approach to these practices in order for candidates to develop deep engagement in contexts of their choosing. Candidates may reside outside of Philadelphia in the fall and spring and come to Moore for 6 weeks during the summer terms due to the nature of the program’s full-time instruction at that time.

What is required for the thesis?

The program is structured to provide candidates the ability to gain a deeper understanding of art historical, cultural and philosophical theories central to community-based social art practices. Developing individual research and assessment skills based on race, cultural and class analysis will be encouraged through the investigation of an essential question related to social engagement within diverse communities. Candidates are expected to conduct comprehensive fieldwork by directly engaging with community organizers, political activists, non-profit organizations and others as a means to broaden their experiential knowledge, and in order to write a well-informed scholarly thesis paper. Each term’s course work requires candidates to participate in documenting their observations of community projects by written assignments, journaling, oral and visual presentations and peer review. Field research and personal discovery will culminate in an original thesis presented as part of Moore’s graduate thesis exhibition. Participation in a public symposium co-hosted by Moore and Mural Arts during the final summer term, will provide candidates for this master’s program to apply their collaborative skills and advocacy across cultures and in arts organizations.

Image: 70 x 7 The Meal, act XXXIV The City of Philadelphia Mural Arts Program, 2013 © 2013 Lucy + Jorge Orta. All rights reserved. Photo by Steve Weinik.