About the Doctoral Program

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Preservation Studies Program student Reyhane Mirabootalebi sits with a weaver she interviewed as part of her doctoral research on traditional Kurdish textiles.

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PhD Program in Preservation Studies

Preservation is the study of the historical context and meaning of international cultural monuments and material heritage combined with the methods, policies, and philosophies necessary to insure their long-term survival and access. The study mandates an interdisciplinary approach within the humanities and the sciences. Informed preservation efforts, for Angkor Wat, for example, should embrace stone deterioration and the cultural history of the monument in addition to history of the region, including politics and religion. Partnerships with global cultural heritage organizations are anticipated for international topics.

There is a keen international need for better understanding of mechanisms of deterioration from the small (e.g. ivory miniatures) to the large (e.g. outdoor bronze sculpture or even entire historic sites) and the appropriate approaches to preservation. Such approaches may range from conservation treatment procedures to larger issues of legislation and public policy.

The Preservation Studies Program (PSP) is an interdisciplinary doctoral course of study that will teach the philosophies, research methodologies, and policies informing preservation efforts focused on art, architecture, landscapes, and material culture. It is distinct from other discipline-based courses of graduate study in that it provides a mechanism to combine cross-field expertise toward doctoral study in preservation. The PSP prepares students to address questions regarding individual objects and works of art, collections, buildings and structures, and sites and landscapes. More specifically, it will train its Ph.D. candidates to

  • Assess the significance and cultural contexts for the production, function, reception, and preservation of all aspects of visual and material culture

  • Identify, evaluate, and implement preservation practice and policy

  • Integrate ideas and methods from the full range of preservation-related disciplines

The Preservation Studies doctoral program builds on unique and distinguished programs at the University of Delaware and is administered within the Art Conservation Department. The PSP may involve collaboration with faculty and physical resources in the Colleges of Arts and Sciences, Agriculture and Natural ResourcesEarth, Ocean and EnvironmentEngineering, Education and Human Development, the School of Public Policy and Administration, the Center for Historic Architecture and Design, and the Winterthur Museum.

Applicants apply to a specific area of concentration within preservation studies, and acceptance will be contingent upon compatibility with existing University of Delaware resources. The PSP director will designate a potential dissertation supervisor who will work with the applicant to design a planned program of study. The Coremans Endowment is already in place for fellowship funding for doctoral students in preservation studies within the College of Arts and Sciences.

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