Art & science collaborations: Gaining a transdisciplinary toolkit


During the Renaissance, Leonardo da Vinci brought a new understanding to fields ranging from optics to medicine by mastering both science and art. Half a millennium later, in many European countries, schools teaching art are separated from those teaching science, and the public views the fields as fundamentally incompatible. The dualism persists, in spite of the fact that art-and-science collaborations have never been valued more highly by those in the know. Some of the most prestigious scientific organizations, from CERN to the SETI Institute, now host artist residencies, and some of the most acclaimed artists, from James Turrell to Maya Lin, deploy the latest scientific research in their work. Because artists and scientists both strive to understand the world, but each has different tools for doing so, the two cultures can together achieve what neither one can accomplish on its own. This course provides young scholars with a working knowledge of ways in which art and science can be effectively combined. Building on case histories in art-and-science collaboration – where trouble-makers and problem-solvers intermingle – the course provides a basic toolkit of transdisciplinary skills for scholars to work with artists toward a common goal. In addition, a rudimentary artistic background is provided for scholars, in order to build the capacity to view their work from a different perspective. With this stereo vision, young scholars will be prepared to become their best selves.

The course includes a series of lectures by acclaimed experts and practitioners in the all areas of art-and-science collaboration, followed by a close reading of exemplary work combining the two fields. Students will give presentations based on what they learn in the lecture series, prompting guided group discussion about what makes a collaboration successful.

While these collaborations are getting more and more popular, the definitions and methods are still quite vague. Together we will look at examples of good and bad practices to extract methods to foster future art-and-science collaborations.

Course objectives    

Participants will:

  • Learn about current art-and-science collaborations and the motivations of leading practitioners.
  • Examine different approaches to art and science collaboration and methods used to enhance each field through practices derived from the other discipline.
  • Critically evaluate the potential and limitations of scholarly and artistic practices.
  • Consider new ways that scholars might work with artists to enhance their research.
  • Expand their translation skills between the different cultures of the arts and sciences.
Target participants     PhD candidates of all disciplines

Public talks

28 September 2021 17:30 - 19:00h

Prof. Dr. Michael John Gormann, Founding Director of Biotopia, Founding Director of Science Gallery at Trinity College Dublin

5 October 2021 18:00 - 19:00h

Julia Buntaine Hoel, conceptual artist and founding Executive Director of SciArt Initiative

12 October 2021 18:00 - 19:00h

Aparna Rao, artist in residence at Wyss institute of UZH and ETHZ

19 October 2021 18:00 - 19:00h

Paola Antonelli, Senior Curator, Architecture & Design / Director, Research & Development at MoMA



29 October 2021 8:00 - 11:00h
12 November 2021  8:00 - 12:00h

Canceling deadline     7 September 2021 23:59


Contact person     Eric Alms, Graduate Campus
ECTS credit     1 ECTS credit (has to be recognized by your faculty)