Stephani Etheridge Woodson, associate professor in the School of Film, Dance and Theatre, has been named the director of the Design and Arts Corps (DAC) at Arizona State University's Herberger Institute for Design and the Arts. The corps is one of the Herberger Institute signature initiatives that aims to become a national model for arts- and design-led community change.
Herberger Institute Dean Steven J. Tepper says Etheridge Woodson is the right person to lead the initiative, which will place designers, artists, scholars and educators at the center of public life and encourage them to use their creative capacities to advance culture and address challenges.
“Professor Etheridge Woodson has built an international reputation as one of the most thoughtful scholars and practitioners of arts- and design-driven community development,” Tepper said. “As director of the Design and Arts Corps, she will build upon existing deep relationships in the community to create the largest, most ambitious university-community partnership in the nation that deploys arts and design to transform neighborhoods and cities.”
Etheridge Woodson is excited to take the reins and says a pilot project for this semester is already in the works.
“The Design and Arts Corps bridges my creative and development passions, together offering the opportunity to ‘be the change I want to see,’” she said.
Etheridge Woodson emphasizes that the Design and the Arts Corps, which is inspired by the Works Progress Administration created by Franklin Delano Roosevelt to provide relief during the Great Depression, is about more than just educating students.
“This is about a collaboration between the university that serves students’ learning but also leverages the human and creative capital of the university in order to build these assets for the community,” she said.
The corps will deploy creative talent to the greater Phoenix area for a variety of programs, from embedding composers in a lab with researchers studying Alzheimer’s disease to public service projects, such as when Etheridge Woodson’s community-based theater class partnered with the Congressman Ed Pastor Center for Politics and Public Service last semester to produce videos highlighting the election and educating voters.
Etheridge Woodson says that the corps has the potential to change the perception of arts and design schools, and that she wants to work “to build stronger communities in which the arts and humanities are understood as a fundamental component of a healthy and democratic society.”
“The vision of the Design and Arts Corps is a transformed relationship between artists, designers and society,” she said. “That’s what we’re building — we’re innovating on the ground.”