BOONE, N.C. — As the newly appointed Dean’s Fellow for Diversity and Inclusion in the College of Fine and Applied Arts (FAA) at Appalachian State University, Cara Hagan, an FAA associate professor of dance, said she has ambitious plans to lead efforts to combat racism, sexism and other problems that plague society. “At some point, history is going to ask you what you did, and I don’t want to be caught scratching my head,” she said.
Hagan, who assumed her new role in July, said one of the first initiatives she has in her sights is working with FAA Interim Dean Dr. Janice T. Pope to establish an Institute for Creative Justice, with the goal of “advancing equality, one great idea at a time.”
According to Hagan, the institute will offer “sandbox sessions” to cultivate dynamic brainstorming that leads to new, shared philosophies in action; a related podcast/TV show to air on the university’s AppTV; and grants to fund projects for faculty, staff and students who are working to advance creative justice ideals and action.
Hagan will also be conducting a college-specific, qualitative inclusion study as part of the institute, which will help faculty, staff and students work toward inclusive solutions in discipline-specific ways.
“Cara Hagan doesn’t back down from a challenge, whether it’s combating systemic racism, fighting for equality or even helping her neighbors prepare for a pandemic,” Pope said. “She has a tremendous spark and passion for delving into these complex issues that our university, community and world are facing.”
Pope continued, “The Institute for Creative Justice will complement our college’s history of creating impactful projects such as the Climate Stories Collaborative, the solar vehicle team and the IDEXlab that address issues related to climate change, social justice and, honestly, just ways we can be better people.”
As a community activist and organizer, Hagan is the founder and driving force behind Small and Mighty Acts (SAMA), a group that recently has sewn and donated hundreds of cloth face masks to local and regional service organizations, such as the High Country Agency on Aging and Boone’s OASIS (Opposing Abuse with Service, Information and Shelter). Additionally, the group stocked a handful of free mask stations around the Boone area between April and June.
Hagan serves as president of Appalachian’s Black Faculty and Staff Association and has taught in Appalachian’s Honors College. Additionally, she is an author, a film festival curator and an artist. By selling her Black Lives Matter artwork, available at Hatchet Coffee in Boone, Hagan has raised $6,000 in two months to benefit anti-racism organizations.
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About the Department of Theatre and Dance
The Department of Theatre and Dance is one of seven departments housed in Appalachian’s College of Fine and Applied Arts. Its mission is to facilitate transformative experiences for students and the public, which cultivate compassionate, creative and collaborative communities through theatre and dance. The department also offers coursework for integrated learning through the arts to the general university student population. Its dynamic co-curricular production program provides exemplary theatre and dance experiences to departmental students, the university community and the region. Learn more at https://theatreanddance.appstate.edu.
About the College of Fine and Applied Arts
Appalachian State University’s College of Fine and Applied Arts is a dynamic and innovative group of seven academic departments, bringing together a variety of perspectives, experiences and real-world education to provide unique opportunities for student success. The college has more than 3,000 undergraduate and graduate majors. Its departments are Applied Design, Art, Communication, Military Science and Leadership, Sustainable Development, Sustainable Technology and the Built Environment, and Theatre and Dance. Learn more at https://faa.appstate.edu.
About Appalachian State University
As the premier public undergraduate institution in the Southeast, Appalachian State University prepares students to lead purposeful lives as global citizens who understand and engage their responsibilities in creating a sustainable future for all. The Appalachian Experience promotes a spirit of inclusion that brings people together in inspiring ways to acquire and create knowledge, to grow holistically, to act with passion and determination, and to embrace diversity and difference. Located in the Blue Ridge Mountains, Appalachian is one of 17 campuses in the University of North Carolina System. Appalachian enrolls nearly 21,000 students, has a low student-to-faculty ratio and offers more than 150 undergraduate and graduate majors.