What is PZ?

PZ's Mission: Project Zero’s mission is to understand and nurture human potentials –such as learning, thinking, ethics, intelligence and creativity –in all human beings. Our research examines the nature of such potentials, the contexts and conditions in which they develop, and the practices that support their flourishing.
Founded by philosopher Nelson Goodman at the Harvard Graduate School of Education in 1967, Project Zero began with a focus on understanding learning in and through the arts. Over the decades, we have continued our inquiry into the arts and arts education, while drawing together diverse disciplinary perspectives to examine fundamental questions of human expression and development. Our research endeavors are marked by a passion for the big conceptual questions, a passion for close collaboration with practitioners, a passion for the interdisciplinary, a passion for the full range of human development, and a passion for the arts.
Today Project Zero is an intellectual wellspring, nourishing inquiry into the complexity of human potentials and exploring sustainable ways to support them across multiple and diverse cultural contexts. Anchored in the arts and humanities, and with a commitment to melding theory and practice, we continue to work toward more enlightened educational processes and systems that support learners, individually and in community, to thrive in, reflect on, contribute to, and change the world in which they will live.

Project Zero First Fifty-Five Years

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.

Read the full report

Project Zero Annual Reports

2018 - 2019 Annual Report

2017 - 2018 Annual Report

2016 - 2017 Annual Report

2015 - 2016 Annual Report

2014 - 2015 Annual Report