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The Herberger Institute for Design and the Arts is located within a dynamic 21st-century research university, with efforts abroad integral to the ASU Art Museum, as well as our five schools: art; arts, media + engineering, design; film, dance and theatre; and music. Our mutual relationships with communities around the world, and our work to have a positive effect on, and relationship with, those communities is critical to the Herberger Institute’s mission. Our design and arts faculty members and students pursue educational, creative and research initiatives with far-reaching global impact.
In The Design School, for example, graduate curriculum requires students to travel around the world to engage global communities in examining design issues beyond what they are familiar with, including disaster management, biomimicry, water resource management and healthcare design for indigenous populations. In the School of Art, we have created a vibrant artist’s exchange and exhibition program with faculty and students in Renmin, China, one unlike any other in the U.S. or China in its depth.
We are also the creative home for hundreds of research projects with topics as varied as the individual and collaborative imaginations of our Herberger Institute community. Areas of research have ranged from the study of natural food and textile production to alternative commodity systems. One of our students, herself a sheep-shearer, used that experience to conduct a cross-cultural study of human-animal histories in several sheepherding parts of the world. We have a Fulbright student in Buenos Aires, composing interactive systems to enable tango dancers to become part of the creation of the music in the context of a social dance. A doctoral student in the School of Film, Dance and Theatre conducted her fieldwork in Bahia, Brazil, examining the effects of unacknowledged tourist privilege on the everyday lives of women who live there. These are just a few examples among many.
We bring the world to ASU through initiatives like the Curb Creative Enterprise and Cultural Leadership Program, which pairs Herberger Institute faculty with cohorts from the McCain Institute for International Leadership’s Next Generation Leaders to look at using “design thinking” to inform the leaders’ policy work in their home countries. We also sponsor international conferences such as Balance-Unbalance, a major international conference designed to use art as a catalyst to explore intersections between nature, science, technology and society as we move into an era of both unprecedented ecological threats and transdisciplinary possibilities.
Design and the arts are critical resources for transforming our society. The ASU Herberger Institute for Design and the Arts is committed to enhancing and expanding interdisciplinary efforts, and to highlighting the extraordinary and unexpected results that occur when artists and designers are part of larger conversations about policy. Herberger Institute faculty, students and staff show how creative thinking can build new approaches not only to the arts but also to addressing the complex challenges of the future.