What does innovation mean at ASU’s Herberger Institute?
by Steven J. Tepper, dean of the Herberger Institute for Design and the Arts
At Arizona State University, we talk about innovation a lot, and last week, the university held its inaugural Innovation Day. Several thousand faculty, staff and students gathered at Sun Devil Stadium to celebrate what we’ve accomplished together — to learn, play, experiment and explore new ideas, and then experience a performance by the phenomenal Reggie Watts.
The day was many things: unexpected, exciting, educational, fun, thought-provoking and — naturally — innovative.
To begin with, we mean breaking out of the containers that have held design and the arts for most of the 20th century, in special places and for special functions, and reimagining how and where designers and artists can work in the world, who we can work with and how our creativity activates public life.
These are some examples of how the nation’s largest comprehensive, design and arts college is working across ASU’s five campuses and California centers to embed designers, artists and art-based inquiry at the core of the university. We innovate by these connections and cross-fertilizations and collaborations. We’re innovating in the methodologies we want to open up to our students, the spaces where we want to work, and in our projects with partners who share our goals around inclusion, access and the generation of new knowledge. Our recent partnerships with the Los Angeles County Museum of Art and Autodesk are just the first of many we will announce in the coming years.
At the national level, we are innovating by creating a space, the National Accelerator for Cultural Innovation and Inclusion, for artists/designers/culture bearers/community leaders to imagine, prototype and scale ways artists and designers can leverage their practices for social justice and public good. We’re innovating at the university level with the creation of Institute Professors who have the freedom to work across ASU to knit disciplines and colleges together and demonstrate how transdisciplinary, trans-medium practice can transform student work and public imagination. Our first Institute Professor, Liz Lerman, has been working on Wicked Bodies, and our newest Institute Professor, Wanda Dalla Costa, has launched the Indigenous Design Collaborative.
Every day, Herberger Institute students and faculty are surfacing new approaches, new partnerships, new ways to put their skills and unique perspectives to work for change in the world. Below is just a taste of what innovation in design and the arts at ASU looks like.
Here’s to more of it in the coming year, and to breaking out of our containers!
@asuhida's Dean Steven Tepper: What is innnovation? "It's the reason we all wake up in the morning. We have a chance to put something original in the world." #ASUInnovationDay https://t.co/vMXst2I9bC
Film Spark, a School of Film, Dance and Theatre program at the intersection of the entertainment industry and academia that accelerates the careers of ASU students and alumni, engages and grows the network of Hollywood Sun Devils and works to improve the entertainment industry, and has expanded to include job/internship fairs; sponsorship of for-credit courses in Tempe; and new connections with Santa Monica College. Led by Adam Collis
The Indigenous Design Collaborative, a community-driven design and construction program that brings together tribal community members, industry and a multidisciplinary team of ASU students and faculty to co-design and co-develop solutions for tribal communities in Arizona. Led by Wanda Dalla Costa
The Music Theatre and Opera Program’s New Works Initiative, which forges a new model for the creation of music theatre stage works, aims to establish ASU as a major producer of new opera and music theatre works, and exposes students to the creative process of new work development by working directly with composers and librettists and collaborating with internationally recognized professional artists and organizations. (The Los Angeles Opera is premiering “Prism,” an opera produced by Herberger Institute, workshopped at the School of Music and produced by ASU alum Beth Morrison, this month.) Led by Brian DeMaris
SCAPE, a project that introduced environmental history, ethics, mapping and water quality testing protocols to regional students over the course of two years, and Testing the Water, which includes a curriculum, online publication and public exhibition comprised of stories, images and video that share stories of place tied to water quality across the Colorado River Basin in Arizona. Led by Dan Collins
SERRA, an immersive environment with several presentation formats (performances in public settings, stage productions and installations) that approaches movement in an entirely new way, adapting time and space scales to the activity of plants, and placing the human body within this new dimension. Led by Sha Xin Wei, Todd Ingalls, Julian Stein