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.
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.