Management Studio

Management Studio

The three-semester Management Studio curriculum integrates pedagogy and methods of professional practice from disciplines such as environmental studies; architecture and design; improvisation studies; policy; leadership and management; and wellness. The curriculum is predicated on a deep exploration of collaboration and is intended to be in continuous dialog with the existing areas of department inquiry and beyond. The curriculum animates and extends SAIC’s Core Values (, particularly as a course based trans-disciplinary hub for exchange, learning, and action. It is also a goal for course work to support opportunities for students to find satisfying employment after school and to remain part of an engaged alumni network.

MAAAP department faculty members develop Management Studio projects in collaboration with partners across Chicago and beyond. Projects have led to employment and paid internships, and have shaped thesis research projects. Management Studio classes intersect with and leverage other core curriculum coursework to create a continuous investigation of the theory/practice dialectic. Management Studio classes explore artistic practice methodologies as a resource for creative arts administration.

The class sessions include lecture, discussion, workshops and project work. The students self-select into project teams of three-six students based on interest and skill building opportunity. The teams negotiate and design their own structure and work with their external partners to determine and contract project deliverables. The curriculum creates opportunities for students to gain and practice general skills and tools across the field of arts administration, as well as the chance to develop more specialized skills in areas of personal professional interest. 

Management Studio I (Year one, Fall semester) focuses primarily on systems of organizing culture and associated social systems (organizations, networks, ecosystems) The projects, readings and discussions reflect the complexity of this activity in different ways. For example, some projects include multiple partners across the city while others might focus on start-up concepts requiring broad market research, or investigate larger institutional and policy questions. Starting with the so-called big picture positions students to learn to think politically and strategically about systems and how they function and change. 

Management Studio II (Year one, Spring semester) invites students to move towards focused skill building through workshops in areas such as fundraising and development, data strategy, technology, evaluation, and communication. Workshops often include guest facilitators with particular areas of expertise, offering students an opportunity to build valuable relationships and leverage knowledge networks. Students work in their project teams during these sessions and use the projects as case studies.

Management Studio III invites second and third year graduate students to develop and produce their own projects, particularly those connected to thesis research. In addition to a mentored environment for project development, the course explores advanced management skills in leadership transition, change management, developing multi-organizational collaborations, conflict negotiation, and human resource issues. Students also focus on practicing specific professional development skills in portfolio development and job search planning.