VCUarts Qatar launches Institute for Creative Research

QF partner university’s institute is the first university-level institute for creative research in the country

When Virginia Commonwealth University School of the Arts in Qatar (VCUarts Qatar) recently launched the VCUarts Qatar Institute for Creative Research, it became home to the country’s, and one of the region’s, first university-level institutes dedicated to advancing creative research.

Her Excellency Sheikha Hind bint Hamad Al Thani, Vice-Chairperson and CEO of Qatar Foundation (QF), and Dr. Sriram Rao, Vice President for Research and Innovation, VCU, Richmond attended the event.

Also in attendance were Francisco Marmolejo, President of Higher Education at Qatar Foundation; Dr. Hisham Sabir, Executive Director (Interim), Qatar National Research Fund (QNRF); Riham Daher, Director of Programs Administration, QNRF; Lisa Ballance, Associate Vice President for Strategy and Regulatory Affairs, VCU, Richmond; Amir Berbić, Dean, VCUarts Qatar; and other senior leadership, chairs and faculty from VCUarts Qatar’s research, academic and administrative departments. Dr. Sriram Rao, made the official announcement of the Institute.

“On behalf of President Michael Rao and the leadership of VCU, I want to offer my congratulations to you all on today’s announcement that VCUarts Qatar is going to be home to the first university-level Institute for Creative Research in the entire country,” he said.

“This is no small feat. To become designated as a VCU-wide institution or center, it means undergoing extensive, critical, and competitive review on the main campus in Richmond. The mission of such a proposed institute must align with the University’s mission and overall critical priorities, what we refer to as a ‘one-VCU’ strategic research priority,” he continued.

“To be designated a VCU center, is a tall order. It has to be trans-disciplinary; it has to foster a culture of collaboration; and its goals and vision have to stretch beyond individual goals. Only a handful achieve this designation. I know the impact of this research that will take place in this Institute for Creative Research will be felt beyond Qatar and abroad. It will be global. And, what better way for students to have an experiential learning than in this collaborative environment.”

The four goals of the Institute are: to partner with local industry for increased community engagement; increase awareness of societal impacts and contributions of creative research; support multi-disciplinary collaborations with partner institutions from within Education City and the VCU campuses in Richmond; and support human capacity development in creative research in Qatar.

Francisco Marmolejo, President of Higher Education at Qatar Foundation, spoke highly of the initiative. “This new and exciting institute is aligned with the strategic priorities for multiversity integration and collaboration that Qatar Foundation has at the core of its purpose. We look forward to the contributions that will be made through this work to Qatar Foundation’s commitment to unlocking human potential.”

The Institute’s governing operations will be led by Dr. Diane Derr, Associate Dean for Research and Development. 

Explaining the mission of the Institute further, Dr. Derr, said, “The unique structure of the Institute, comprised of faculty-led research labs, will advance research, scholarship and creative practice in Qatar, through experimental, exploratory and traditional forms of inquiry. The teams of faculty, students and alumni will make impactful contributions to Qatar’s creative economy and the vibrant research enterprise of Qatar Foundation.”

The Institute is made up of faculty-led Research Labs. Together, these Labs at VCUarts Qatar explore areas as diverse as nanotechnology, product design and development, data processing, computation and sound design, to transformative pedagogy, cultural preservation and Arabic typography.

Each Lab supports in-depth investigations by teams of faculty, students, and alumni, and enhances community engagement and impact. The Labs provide students with hands-on experiential learning, and recent alumni with valuable professional development.

Research is a key component of teaching and learning at VCUarts Qatar, and 36% of the University’s total faculty body participate in the newly launched Research Institute. VCUarts Qatar’s Dean Amir Berbić noted how the Research Institute will contribute to VCUarts Qatar’s mission of cultivating collaborative, impactful research and creative practices that benefit the broader community.

“Today, VCUarts Qatar became home to the first Institute for Creative Research in the country and the region,” he said. “This is not only an achievement, but also a well-earned progression for a School of the Arts and branch campus of a public R1 institution that has always recognized the value and impact of creative research on society.

“Research at VCUarts Qatar encompasses a broad and diverse spectrum of areas, including cultural production, material studies, visual cultures, advancing pedagogies, cultural heritage and sustainability and emergent technology.”

“Now, through the Institute for Creative Research we will further enhance our contributions to the advancement of creative research with substantive local, regional and international impact, and bridge the local with the global while cultivating meaningful contributions in discourse, the community and the classroom.”

Lead Image: Research and VCU management team.