Program overview

PhD Coordinator: Maria Luisa Catoni

The PhD program in Cultural Systems unites disciplines that have been carefully selected for their ability to provide the necessary cultural, methodological, and instrumental know-how for the analysis and management of complex cultural systems. 

The Program includes two Tracks and, in the spirit of the IMT School, integrates academic excellence with an interdisciplinary vocation. IMT internal faculty members, outstanding experts from leading international institutions and directors and curators from important Italian and international museums offer courses and seminars within the program. 

The track Analysis and Management of Cultural Heritage (AMCH)  offers different methodologies and tools for analyzing and managing cultural heritage through core curatorial disciplines, such as Archaeology, Art History, Visual Studies, and Visual Archives courses, complemented with disciplines such as Contemporary History, Cultural Heritage Law, Digital Humanities, History of Philosophy, Philosophy, ICT and Organisation and Management Science courses.

The track in Museum Studies (MUST)*, established in partnership with some of the leading Italian museums and cultural institutions, offers methodologies and tools for analyzing and managing museums, museum core activities, and related issues, such as object display, curatorship, temporary and permanent exhibitions, provenance research and restitution, institutional role of museums at a global level, museum policy-making, social and economic impacts of museums, museum management, etc. 

Some of the research activities carried out within the PhD program include the contextual and multidisciplinary analysis of data concerning: objects, images, and spaces in defined historical, political, social, ideological, economic, legal, and cultural contexts; the reception of images, forms, ideas, texts, techniques and technologies from a cultural-historical point of view; cultural heritage in its multiple dimensions; cultural and cultural heritage institutions, policies, regulations, legal frameworks, organization and management strategies, industries and professional careers; the socioeconomic impact of cultural heritage and culture, analysis of actual and potential visitors' needs and behaviours in different spaces (physical and virtual); emerging cultural and visual languages; “difficult cultural heritage” and cultural diplomacy; elaboration and application of new methodologies and technologies to the analysis and management of culture and cultural heritage; archaeological excavation and research; museum and collection history; museums' mission and performance; provenance research.

The program allows students to actively participate in ongoing research and strategic projects on cultural heritage and cultural heritage institutions; it also entails training and research field trips in direct contact with specific aspects of- or activities on- cultural heritage, cultural heritage institutions, archives, deposits of museums and archaeological sites, archaeological excavations.

The principal educational goal of the program is to train students in innovative and critical thinking and, at the same time, to provide them with a mastery of methodological tools and advanced techniques for the analysis, organization, and management of cultural heritage, cultural phenomena, and their multiple impacts. The track MUST* inflects such mission in the specific field of museums and museums studies. 

This multi- and cross-disciplinary program combines theoretical and methodological with concrete inductive, “on site” training and research on cultural systems. Its innovative approach aims to train students in specific cultural heritage areas and disciplines while simultaneously establishing a strict relationship between historical-contextual analyses and the application/elaboration of innovative analytical and organizational strategies and tools for the complex system of culture and cultural heritage. 

Students are encouraged to actively participate in ongoing research projects of theoretical as well as site-specific and practice-based nature; the program includes research and training field trips in direct contact with cultural heritage, cultural institutions, and cultural industries.

Students can also complete their research projects under joint supervision (double-degree) with partner universities. All students are encouraged to spend part of their studies abroad, both within the Erasmus+ framework and through ad-hoc mobility agreements.

All Research units at the IMT School organize regular seminars and workshops held by external and internal faculty members, complementing the coursework with exposure to the latest research topics and methodologies. Speakers at the seminars and workshops are leading researchers from all around the world. 

Active reading groups covering various research areas allow the students to present their work in progress or discuss ideas and interesting papers. Students have multiple occasions to present their research during courses,  exams, seminars, workshops, and reading groups.

* The new call for the MUST track will be published in 2025.