A note from Dean Tepper

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A note from Dean Tepper:

Welcome to the fourth edition of DISRUPT—our annual review of featured stories about the people and projects that have animated life at the Institute. This edition looks back at the 2020-2021 academic year, a year in which we learned to live and work in a new hybrid space that emerged in response to the COVID19 pandemic.  

I spend my days as dean in awe of this place, and particularly so in the last 18 months—enraptured by the creativity, talent and purpose of our students, faculty and staff. We are the largest, comprehensive design and arts college in the U.S., with close to 7,000 students enrolled this fall and almost 1,000 faculty and staff.  

As part of the New American University, our purpose is to provide an education, a pathway forward, for as many learners as we can reach. If the world needs more engineers and biologists and economists and business graduates, it certainly needs more artists and designers. And, if higher education needs to be more accessible to students from every background, certainly its design and arts colleges need to be inclusive. We are committed to the idea of Creativity at Social Scale. We will not accept an educational system that rejects creative students who have talent, voice, passion, imagination just because they do not fit the narrow, traditional criteria for selection used by most other design and arts colleges. We have a path for everyone. Everyone is welcome. The Institute is disrupting the conventional model—and this issue of DISRUPT is a journey through some of the ways we are doing this. 

Creativity at Social Scale also means that we are pushing arts and design beyond our limited conceptions of where creativity belongs. Arts and design live at intersections with every discipline and sector—from health to education, from justice studies to sustainability. You will find stories about these intersections inside this issue—stories that showcase how artists and designers are using their creativity to influence social change and to create impact in our world. 

And Creativity at Social Scale means embracing new technologies that are shifting (and disrupting) the ways humans express themselves, share that expression, and interact with their environments. The Herberger Institute, as evidenced in this issue, is fully tilted toward the future—embracing new forms of expression and the technologies that enable such expression—from extended reality, to animation, to virtual production, to AI driven design.  

DISRUPT is testimony to the core values that drive this extraordinary place. We believe in and embrace the generations of knowledge that underlie our creative disciplines. We honor stories and ideas that have shaped our culture and our expressive lives. And we are directing all of this energy and knowledge and craft and discipline toward a better, more just and more humane world. We are disrupting to make room for what is emerging—to make room for new voices, new technologies, new methodologies and new ideas of impact, scale and transformation. Ultimately, we are making room for our students and their radiant brilliance: They are the true Disruptors, and their creativity is unbounded. 

Enjoy, and thank you for your support of the Herberger Institute for Design and the Arts.

Steven J. Tepper

Dean and director, Herberger Institute for Design and the Arts

Disrupt is organized around the following themes:

Centering student thriving: Focus on the academic, social and community well-being of our students.

Art at the intersections: Champion the power of art and design to transform ideas and practices in other sectors including science, health, sustainability and development.

Projecting all voices: Center and advance those artists and designers whose lived experience and professional work are historically underrepresented or underinvested.

Creativity and place: Support arts and design integration into comprehensive, equitable community design and planning.

To explore the magazine, flip through the pages using the arrows on the bottom right corner, or click the three lines in the top left corner of any article to see the table of contents.