Creative Culture and Democratically Engaged Assessment

By: Patti H. Clayton   Stephani Etheridge Woodson   Joe Bandy   Anna Bartel   Sarah Stanlick   Mary F. Price  

USAmerican-based Imagining America (IA), Artists and Scholars in Public Life ( believes that “creative culture is an important site of liberation” and “art and design hold the key to bringing people together in imagining a better future.” The assessment of these practices, however, can undermine the personal / collective agency on which collaborative arts/scholarship and democracy depend, framing impacts in shallow ways. Evaluations are often top-down, managerial, and bureaucratic, silencing us in the face of normative, sometimes even oppressive, systems. It can, however, be re-imagined in the service of democracy and justice, becoming an emancipatory process of community building, empowerment, and transformation. IA’s Research Group “Assessing Practices of Public Scholarship” is an trans-disciplinary team of community engagement practitioner-scholar-artist-activists across North America who have developed a framework called “Democratically Engaged Assessment” (DEA) to address these concerns. DEA is an orientation to assessment (especially but not exclusively related to community engagement) that is grounded in, informed by, and in dialogue with the contested values of democratic civic engagement (e.g., full participation, co-creation, generativity) and that draws on non-normative practices, such as arts-based research (e.g., narrative research or theatrical story circles as assessment). Members of APPS will each share an aspect of DEA (with take-away materials) for participants to engage with as they share and refine questions and practices, tapping their experience as artists and academics who are uniquely positioned to help fulfill the potential of creative culture in reimagining assessment as a site of democratic resistance and renewal.

Democratic Assessment, Community Engagement, Art Impacts, Liberation
2020 Special Focus - Against the Grain: Arts and the Crisis of Democracy

Patti H. Clayton

Community Engagement Practitioner-Scholar, PHC Ventures

Stephani Etheridge Woodson

Director, Design and Arts Corps, Arizona State University

Joe Bandy

Assistant Director, Center for Teaching, Vanderbilt University

Anna Bartel

Associate Director, Office of Engagement Initiatives, Cornell University

Sarah Stanlick

Assistant Professor, Interdisciplinary and Global Studies, Worcester Polytechnic Institute

Mary F. Price

Director of Faculty Development, Center for Service and Learning, Indiana University - Purdue University Indianapolis