Project Zero was founded by the philosopher Nelson Goodman at the Harvard Graduate School of Education in 1967 to study and improve education in the arts. Goodman believed that arts learning should be studied as a serious cognitive activity, but that “zero” had yet been firmly established about the field; hence, the project was given its name.
Harvard Graduate School of Education (HGSE) professors David Perkins and Howard Gardner served as co-directors of Project Zero from 1972 to July 1, 2000. Steve Seidel, Project Zero Principal Investigator and the Bauman and Bryant Chair of the Arts in Education Program at HGSE, took over the role at that point and continued to serve in it through 2008. Daniel Wilson, Project Zero Principal Investigator and lecturer at HGSE, is the current Director. Howard Gardner, David Perkins, and Steve Seidel continue their active involvement with Project Zero by serving on its steering committee, participating in conferences, and through their own research projects.
Over the years, Project Zero has maintained a strong research agenda in the arts while gradually expanding to include investigations into the nature of intelligence, understanding, thinking, creativity, cross-disciplinary and cross-cultural thinking, and ethics. The organization has conducted dozens of major research initiatives, published over 90 books and hundreds of articles and reports, and collaborated with countless partners. Project Zero’s work takes place nationally and internationally, in a variety of settings; while much of the research occurs in schools, an increasing amount is focused on businesses, cultural organizations such as museums, and online. In addition, Project Zero offers symposia and workshops, most notably the annual summer institutes.
Visible Thinking is a flexible and systematic research-based conceptual framework, which aims to integrate the development of students’ thinking with content learning across subject matters. Visible Thinking began as an initiative to develop a research-based approach to teaching thinking dispositions. The approach emphasized three core practices: thinking routines, the documentation of student thinking, and reflective professional practice. It was originally developed at Lemshaga Akademi in Sweden as part of the Innovating with Intelligence project, and focused on developing students’ thinking dispositions in such areas as truth-seeking, understanding, fairness, and imagination. It has since expanded its focus to include an emphasis on thinking through art and the role of cultural forces and has informed the development of other Project Zero Visible Thinking initiatives, including Artful Thinking, and Cultures of Thinking. –