International Institute for Critical Studies in Improvisation


The International Institute for Critical Studies in Improvisation (IICSI) is a partnered research institute established in 2013. The Institute’s research team comprises 56 scholars from 19 different institutions. Funded for seven years by the SSHRC Partnership grant program, IICSI’s partners include five academic institutions (University of Guelph, McGill University, Memorial University of Newfoundland, University of Regina, University of British Columbia), a foundation partner (Musagetes), and over 30 community-based organizations.

The Institute’s mandate is to create positive social change through the confluence of improvisational arts, innovative scholarship, and collaborative action. Our team will engage, connect, and mobilize scholars, students, creative practitioners, and community partners in order to create a vibrant intellectual hub, and a focal point for leading-edge research and critical inquiry in the field of improvisation studies. Incorporating activities as diverse as the creation and management of new multi-institutional graduate curricula, the development of new technologies, and the implementation of models for practice-based research, the partnered research Institute will be a worldwide leader in delivering the knowledge transfers, new research, student training, and development of policies, instruments, and technologies that emerge out of this exciting new area of inquiry.

During the seven years of the SSHRC Partnership grant, the work associated with the International Institute for Critical Studies in Improvisation will be indexed to three strategic research priorities:

  • Improvisation as Practice-Based Research
  • Improvisation, Community Health, and Social Responsibility
  • Improvisation, Intermediality, and Experimental Technologies

As a form of musical practice, improvisation embodies real-time creative decision-making, risk-taking, and collaboration. Musical improvisation can be considered not simply as a musical form, but, perhaps more urgently, as a complex social phenomenon that mediates transcultural inter-artistic exchanges that produce new conceptions of identity, community, history, and the body. The International Institute for Critical Studies in Improvisation will be a central source for the collection and dissemination of research on the social implications of improvisational practices.

IICSI builds on the work established by the Improvisation, Community and Social Practice research project, which founded the peer reviewed journal Critical Studies in Improvisatio/Etudes critiques en improvisation.

For more information contact Dr. Andrew Staniland at or visit