IICSI Group September 2013 About IICSI


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 is a central source for the collection and dissemination of research on the social implications of improvisational practices.

The International Institute for Critical Studies in Improvisation (IICSI) is a partnered research institute building from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada (SSHRC) project, “Improvisation, Community, and Social Practice” (ICASP). The Institute’s research team is comprised of 58 scholars from 20 different institutions. Funded for seven years by the SSHRC Partnership grant program, IICSI’s partners include six academic institutions (University of Guelph, McGill University, Memorial University of Newfoundland, University of Regina, University of British Columbia, University of California, Santa Barbara), 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 engages, connects, and mobilizes 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 a new multi-institutional academic degree program, the development of new technologies, and the implementation of models for practice-based research, the partnered research Institute is 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.

Strategic Research Priorities

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 3 new strategic research priorities:

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

The IICSI team and affiliated research projects continue to grow and expand as new research initiatives are developed.