New ASU center to engage community in politics, leadership

July 25, 2014

Arizona State University President Michael Crow has announced the appointment of Donald T. Critchlow as the director of the new Center for Political Thought and Leadership. The center, the evolution of the undergraduate Political Thought and Leadership certificate program Critchlow has co-directed, will provide research and training for the next generation of local and national leaders on the foundational principles of good government, civic involvement, free markets and political liberty.

“Professor Critchlow is the ideal person to lead this new center forward, and his distinguished background in political thought and research will bring great perspective and value to the center at a time of continued political deadlock and precipitous decline in civic literacy in the United States,” said Crow. Download Full Image

Critchlow, who came to ASU as the visiting Barry Goldwater Chair of American Institutions in 2010, is a professor in the School of Historical, Philosophical and Religious Studies. He has authored or edited 21 books, including his most recent work, “When Hollywood Was Right: How Movie Moguls, Film Stars, and Big Business Remade American Politics” (Cambridge University Press, 2013).

A graduate of the University of California Berkeley with a doctorate in history, Critchlow is president of the Institute for Political History, a national nonprofit educational foundation established in 2000 to promote the civic and academic education of political history and thought. At ASU, he teaches courses on American conservatism, political thought, political conspiracy and contemporary American history.

Working with Kent Wright, an associate professor of history at ASU, Critchlow co-founded the Political Thought and Leadership certificate program, providing undergraduate students with a foundation in the history of politics and political thought with an emphasis on developing civic leadership. The program acquaints students with major thinkers in democratic ideas and includes invited speakers, social events and internships geared to develop leaders well-versed in the principles of democracy.

Critchlow said, “To me, the most exciting aspect of the new center is that it will bring academic education and scholarly research to the larger Arizona community.”

The center has already received significant external support. It will house the Jack Miller Library on Constitutional Principles, a significant collection of classical books on political liberty and fundamental principles at the heart of American civic, cultural and constitutional life, and the Journal of Policy History, a peer-reviewed academic quarterly focused on the application of historical perspectives to public policy studies. The Miller Center is a non-profit, non-partisan and non-sectarian organization dedicated to the support of scholarship, teaching and study of the central ideas and themes of American history and the broader traditions of Western Civilization.

Additionally, a five-year grant providing up to $1.129 million dollars from the Charles Koch Foundation, an organization that supports research and educational programs focused on exploring the sources of well-being, will provide seed funding for the center. A post-doctoral program, faculty-student community workshops, a lecture program, student reading groups and library will offer many of the center’s activities.

“History offers an essential lens through which we can gain perspective on what has been most effective in helping people improve their lives,” said Richard Fink, president of the Charles Koch Foundation. “By exploring the tenets and traditions of societies, ASU’s new center promises to enhance our understanding of the institutions and social rules that can best enable people to increase their well-being.”

Critchlow said the center will seek to engage the larger community outside the university: “Participation from many internal and external partners will encourage community involvement, create a network to foster students’ careers and provide a path for scholars to speak to the larger world.”

“It is important the center is embedded in the community and becomes a recognized and trusted voice in the debate surrounding political thought and leadership,” he added.

The School of Historical, Philosophical and Religious Studies is an academic unit of the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences at Arizona State University.

Sharon Keeler

ASU School of Film, Dance and Theatre receives 2014 NEA grant for 'Story Days'

July 27, 2014

The Phoenix Office of Arts and Culture Public Art Program, in partnership with Friendly House and the ASU School of Film, Dance and Theatre in the Herberger Institute for Design and the Arts, will receive a $100,000 National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) Our Town grant.

The grants are awarded annually to fund innovative efforts to stimulate local economies and bolster community identity through the arts. Jane Chu, National Endowment for the Arts chair, announced that Phoenix is one of 66 communities from 38 states and the District of Columbia to be awarded $5.073 million in the Our Town program's fourth year of funding. The ASU School of Film, Dance and Theatre is known for innovative, community-based, socially engaged artistic practice, including initiatives like Performance in the Borderlands, which presented Entre Mujeres in downtown Phoenix in November 2013. Photo by Tim Trumble. Download Full Image

The Phoenix Office of Arts and Culture Public Art Program and grant partners will use the $100,000 to create "Story Days," a two-year series of story-based arts programs and events that explore the connections Phoenix residents have to their communities. The project will bring diverse communities together with writers and performers to highlight the forces that shape the meaning of place in Phoenix and its neighborhoods.

"This grant represents an extraordinary opportunity for both our students and the communities with whom they will be collaborating, a chance to help define a new kind of relationship between city and university," said Jake Pinholster, director of the ASU School of Film, Dance and Theatre.

The grant will enable the School of Film, Dance and Theatre and the Phoenix Office of Arts and Culture to select writers and performers to work directly with the Harmon Park, Matthew Henson and South Mountain communities, creating stories, poems and performances about community history and identity. The artists and community members involved in the project will present readings, performances and events at venues such as Friendly House and other sites throughout the city.

"Story Days" highlights Arizona State University's ambitious new program in community-based, socially-engaged artistic practice. It will bring art students, faculty, visiting artists and community residents together in common creative workshops.

“The Herberger Institute is committed to placing artists at the center of public life, and deploying the talent and creativity of our faculty and students to bring forward the powerful and passionate voices of all of our city’s residents,” said Steven J. Tepper, dean of the Herberger Institute. “This unique partnership with the city and the NEA highlights the power of socially-engaged arts practice to build and strengthen our local community.”

"Phoenix is excited to partner with the National Endowment for the Arts and our friends at ASU and Friendly House in this important community-building project,” said Phoenix Mayor Greg Stanton. “This public art project will strengthen our local bonds and deepen our appreciation of our community and of each other."

The Our Town projects demonstrate that excellent art is as fundamental to a community’s success as land-use, transportation, education, housing, infrastructure and public safety, helping build stronger communities that are diverse in geography and character. Our Town funds arts-based community development projects in a way that is authentic and equitable, and that augments existing local assets.

“The 'Story Days' project demonstrates the best in creative community development, and will have valuable impact on its community,” said Chu. “Through Our Town funding, arts organizations continue to spark vitality that supports neighborhoods and public spaces, enhancing a sense of place for residents and visitors alike."

This is the second Our Town grant awarded to the Phoenix Office of Arts and Culture Public Art Program; the first grant was also in partnership with the Herberger Institute for Design and the Arts, for the Feast on the Street.

For more information about Phoenix’s Public Art Program, visit For more information about Friendly House,

Public Contact: 
Deborah Sussman Susser
Communications and Media

Media Contact:
Deborah Sussman Susser
Communications ad Media