Project Zero, housed at the Harvard Graduate School of Education, began in 1967. It was founded by the philosopher Nelson Goodman and—facilitated by Dean Theodore Sizer—was initially funded by the Old Dominion Foundation. The initial purpose of PZ— as it is widely known, along with HPZ—was to carry out fundamental research on education in the arts. As Goodman famously quipped, “The state of general communicable knowledge about arts education is zero. We’re starting at zero, so we are Project Zero.” The whimsical name has stuck, though we trust that we have moved well beyond zero systematic knowledge.

Over the decades, Project Zero has extended well beyond the arts, to cover a great deal of the curriculum. It has ranged over the age spectrum and educational gamut, from young children to mature learners, from schools to institutions like museums and corporations, from teachers to leaders in different fields of knowledge and practice. The appendix to this report lists historical accounts as well as selected reviews of work carried out at Project Zero.

Importantly, Project Zero has always been a “soft money” research project. There is no endowment—indeed, the University receives overhead on every grant and gift. It’s accurate to say that those who work at HPZ need to raise their own salaries and benefits. We are aware of very few research centers with such longevity… and such productivity and world-wide influence.

In 1992, with Nelson Goodman as honored guest, PZ celebrated its 25th birthday; in 2018, with all succeeding directors present, PZ celebrated its 50th birthday. For information about these events, please see the appendix.

Continue reading about Project Zero - The First Fifty-Five Years by downloading the report using the link in the right-hand column.