Rhea Werner 15: From MCLA to a Ph.D in London

March 14, 2018

Rhea Werner PisaA recent graduate of City University London’s master’s degree program in culture, policy and management, Rhea Werner ’15 plans to pursue her Ph.D in arts management at one of two other London universities. Both programs are a perfect fit, she said, for her focus on cultural identity.

As a participant in one of MCLA’s travel courses to Ireland, Werner traveled to the United Kingdom for the first time in 2013. The following spring, she visited England. As she explored London, she fell in love with the city, and made it her goal to attend graduate school there.

The biggest advantage of studying in London, she explained, was the opportunity to learn in a culturally and historically rich city, especially as she worked on her dissertation on culture and history, with nearby resources such as the British Library. Her location in Europe also was advantageous as she conducted a site observation at the Camposanto Monumentale in Pisa, Italy

“One of my favorite parts of London is its vibrancy,” Werner said. “I can go to Camden and see the eclectic shops and street art, or walk along the Thames and see the architecture, or stop in a local pub for atmosphere, as well. Londoners experience a more relaxed way of living than Americans. After working in Boston for a year, it was a nice change of pace.”

Because her classmates came to study in London from over the world, including China, Hungary, Italy, France and Canada, “it truly was a global experience,” she explained. “I was surrounded by people of so many different cultures. This, for me, is huge, because this is the field I want to be in. I’ve learned to be more open minded about what is going on in the world.”

Werner said MCLA prepared her well for her graduate studies. It was through a course called “Great Monuments of Art,” which she took as a sophomore, that she learned about the cultural aspects of World War II. “That propelled so much of my research, and I found a topic that I am very passionate about. Without this class, I honestly don't know if I would have continued my studies.”

She continued, “Another area MCLA helped me with was how to work on my own. My master’s program was primarily research-based. At MCLA, I had guidance anytime I needed, but my arts management professors always emphasized individual research. That was a tremendous help, especially in the UK, where many courses focus heavily on individual research.” 

Werner also enjoyed the hands-on learning she experienced at MCLA. Classes such as “Performing Arts Management” and “Advanced Museum Studies” took her out into the community. “I do not think I would have been able to get that anywhere else,” she said.

Now, she is interested in a teaching career that focuses on the ways that World War II affected cultural identity, and also in helping with restitution efforts. “There was a mass displacement of art from Europe because of the Nazis, and I want to be a part of the current effort to help with provenance research,” Werner explained.

“The wonderful part of both of these jobs is that I could work anywhere in the world, and I find that to be a fantastic prospect!”