Creative Justice Institute

Our Philosophy

The Creative Justice Institute: Advancing Equality One Great Idea At a Time

The Creative Justice Institute believes:

  • Black Lives Matter
  • No one is illegal
  • Women’s rights are human rights
  • Love wins
  • Science is real

Creative Justice Initiatives

  • Awards will recognize the work of faculty, staff and students whose work embodies creative justice on campus and beyond.
  • Award nominations will open in March 2021.
  • First award recipients will be recognized at the beginning of the 2021-2022 academic year.
  • Please stay tuned for more information.  
  • Faculty, staff, and students engaged in project-based work that aligns with the mission and goals of the Creative Justice Institute can apply for a mini-grant to fund their work.
  • The first round of grants will be awarded in 2021.
  • Please stay tuned for more information.
  • 22-minute podcast brings together members of the campus community and distinguished guests for engaging conversation
  • Podcast episodes will be broadcast through AppTV, Appalachian State University’s community TV channel
  • The first episode of The Creative Justice Podcast will premiere Nov. 1
  • Share your podcast ideas, submit a proposal to be a guest host or suggest guests
  • The Creative Justice Institute is conducting a qualitative study of the College of Fine and Applied Arts as a way of identifying opportunities to mitigate injustice in our classrooms, among our colleagues, and across the University.
  • This work will be done with the help of the Center for Academic Excellence and Academic Affairs.
  • Information regarding the study will be sent out at the end of 2020 and begin in January 2021, continuing through January 2022.
  • As study insights become available, they will be shared with faculty, staff, and students.

Sandbox Sessions (schedule here) are one-hour interactive conversations that offer an opportunity to discussion burning questions and other issues facing our campus and broader community.Sessions are open to all faculty, staff and students who would like to participate. 

Topics May Include:

  • Representation issues on and off campus
  • Culture of our institution
  • Current events
  • Interrogating accepted histories and canons
  • Ideas for projects or initiatives
  • ...and more!

Sessions start with a Burning Question.
Burning questions are relevant, specific and generative.
With the help of a facilitator, participants work individually and with a group to explore thoughts and outcomes to the burning question. They work together to move the possibility of the action forward.

We want your input: Propose a topic or submit a burning question for a Sandbox Session here. 

Would you like to be a facilitator?
Learn how to facilitate a sandbox session 

  • Allows students to take the lead and offer sessions related to culture, creativity and social justice by sharing trends, vocabulary and socio-cultural movements
  • Flips the teacher-student model and honors students for their leadership and wisdom
  • Students may work individually or in a group of up to four presenters to propose a topic for the Student Leaders Series
  • Students interested in participating are encouraged to submit a proposal here.


  • The Creative Justice Institute (CJI) encourages faculty, staff and students to collaborate and reimagine our culture, work toward a more just and inclusive future using our innovation and creative energy.
  • You are invited to join the CJI by participating in a 
    • Sandbox Session
    • Student Leader Series
    • listening to a podcast
    • viewing some of our work, or 
    • applying for a mini-grant or award
  • The CJI was founded in 2020 by Cara Hagan, the College of Fine and Applied Arts Dean’s Fellow for Diversity and Inclusion and Associate Professor of Dance Studies. 
  • The CJI incorporates the possibilities that the arts, humanities and design offer our community in working toward real, systemic change.

Our Leadership

About CJI Founder Cara Hagan

Cara HaganCara Hagan is an artist whose practice exists at the intersections of movement, digital space, words, contemplative practice, and community. Her work has been seen on stage, on screen, and on the page across the United States and Abroad. 

In addition to her work as Appalachian State University faculty and a leader on campus, Hagan is:

  • Director and curator for ADF’s Movies by Movers, an annual, international film festival under the auspices of the American Dance Festival
  • Founder of Small and Mighty Acts, a Boone-based grassroots community group whose mission is to help people reach their civic potential
  • Contributor to Medium