Steven J. Tepper is the dean of the Herberger Institute for Design and the Arts at Arizona State University, the nation’s largest, comprehensive design and arts school at a research university. Tepper, a sociologist, is a leading writer and speaker on higher education and U.S. cultural policy and his work has fostered national discussions around topics of cultural engagement, creative work and careers, art and democracy, and the transformative possibilities of a 21st century creative campus. He is the author of "Not Here, Not Now, Not That! Protest Over Art and Culture in America" (University of Chicago, 2011) and co-editor and contributing author of the book "Engaging Art: The Next Great Transformation of America’s Cultural Life" (Routledge 2007). "The Creative Campus: Who's Number 1", a cover story for the Chronicle of Higher Education in 2004, helped launch the creative campus movement across the US. He has published widely on the topic of education and careers, and his work has appeared in the Chronicle of HIgher Education, Inside HIgher Education, the Huffington Post, FastCompany, the Wall Street Journal, and more.
Prior to ASU, Tepper was on the faculty at Vanderbilt University where he was a chief architect of the Curb Center for Art, Enterprise and Public Policy, a national think tank for cultural policy and creativity. Tepper holds a bachelor's degree from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill; a master's in public policy from Harvard University's John F. Kennedy School of Government; and a doctorate in sociology from Princeton University.
- Ph.D. Sociology, Princeton University
- M.A. Sociology, Princeton University
- M.P.P. Public Policy, John F. Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University
- B.A. International Relations, University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill
cultural policy; creative graduates and creative workers; creative placemaking; measuring community impact; art and democracy; cultural conflict; culture and social change.
Books and Edited Volumes
2013. Patterns and Pathways: Artists and Creative Work in a Changing Economy, co-edited with Elizabeth Lingo. Special issue of Work & Occupations.
2011. Not Here, Not Now, Not That!: Protest Over Art and Culture in America. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.
2007. Engaging Art: The Next Great Transformation of America’s Cultural Life, co-edited with Bill Ivey. New York: Routledge Press.
Articles and Chapters
2023 (forthcoming). “Webs of Meaning: Art and the Culture of Sexual Violence” in CounterActivism: Art, Advocacy, and Sexual Violence, edited by Sally Kitch and Dawn R. Gilpin. Seattle, University of Washington Press.
2022. “The Work of Art in the Age of Ubiquitous Computing” in Are the Arts Essential, edited by Alberta Arthurs and Michael DiNiscia. New York: NYU University Press, pp 159-176.
2018. “Cultural Policy.” With Alexandre Frenette. Handbook of Cultural Sociology. Routledge, NY.
2018. “Oscillate wildly: the under-acknowledged prevalence, predictors, and outcomes of multidisciplinary arts practice” With Alexandre Frenette and Nathan Martin. Cultural Trends 27:5
2017. “I don’t take my tuba to work: Arts graduates and the portability of creative identity.” With Lindemann, D. and H. Talley. American Behavior Scientists. Forthcoming.
2016. "An Asymmetrical Portrait Exploring Gendered Income Inequality in the Arts." With Lindemann, D and C. Rush. Social Currents 3:1.
2016. “What difference does it make: assessing the effects of arts-based training on career pathways,” with Alexander Frenette. In Higher Education and the Creative Economy: Beyond the Campus, eds. Roberta Comunian and Abigail Gilmore. New York; Routledge Press.
2014. “Culture in Crisis: Deploying Metaphor in Defense of Art” with Terry McDonnell. Poetics 43: 20-42.
2014. “Political and Cultural Dimensions of Tea Party Support, 2009-2012” with Andrew Perrin, Neal Caren and Sally Morris. Sociological Quarterly 55:4.
2013. “Looking back, looking forward: Arts-based careers and creative work” with Elizabeth Lingo. Work and Occupations 40(4).
2011. “Cultures of the Tea Party” with Andrew Perrin, Neal Caren, and Sally Morris. Contexts, Spring 2011.
2009. “Creativity Narratives Among College Students: Sociability and Everyday Creativity” with Mark Pachucki and Jennifer Lena. Sociological Quarterly 50:4.
2009. “Stop the Beat: Quiet Regulation and Cultural Conflict.” Sociological Forum 24: 2: 276-306.
2009. “Pathways to Music Exploration in a Digital Age” with Eszter Hargittai. Poetics: Journal of Empirical Research on Culture, the Media and the Arts 37: 227-249.
2007. “Engaging Art: What Counts?” with Yang Gao in Engaging Art: The Next Great Transformation of America’s Cultural Life, eds. Steven Tepper and Bill Ivey, New York: Routledge Press.
2007. “Music, Mavens and Technology” with Eszter Hargittai and David Touve in Engaging Art: The Next Great Transformation of America’s Cultural Life, eds. Steven Tepper and Bill Ivey, New York: Routledge Press.
2007. “The Next Great Transformation: Leveraging Policy and Research to Advance Cultural Vitality” in Engaging Art: The Next Great Transformation of America’s Cultural Life, eds. Steven Tepper and Bill Ivey, New York: Routledge Press.
2004. “Setting Agendas and Designing Alternatives: Policy Making and the Strategic Role of Meetings.” Review of Policy Research 21: 4. 2003. “Where Arts Conflicts Erupt: A National Overview” in The New Gatekeepers: Emerging Challenges to Free Expression in the Arts, edited by Christopher Hawthorne and Andras Szanto, Columbia University, National Arts Journalism Program.
2002. “Creative Assets and the Changing Economy.” Journal of Arts Management, Law and Society 32: 2: 159-166.
2000. "Foreign Objects in Familiar Spaces: The Public’s Response to Art-in-Architecture." International Journal of Cultural Policy 6: 2: 283-316.
2000. "Fiction Reading in America: Explaining the Gender Gap?" (2000). Poetics: Journal of Empirical Research on Culture, the Media and the Arts 27:4: 255-275.
1999. “Groups or Gatherings: Predicting Voter Turnout in 19th Century American Cities,” with Jason Kaufman. Voluntas: International Journal of Voluntary and Nonprofit Organizations 10: 4: 299-322.
Essays, Book Reviews, Reports and Working Papers
2017. “America’s Arts Systems: Transitions and Paradigms.” In Somewhere Becoming Rain: Adaptive Change Is the Future of the Arts. EMC Arts with support from the Doris Duke Foundation and MetLife Foundation.
2017. “What Does It Mean to Sustain a Career in the Gig Economy.” In Creativity Connects: Trends and Conditions Affecting U.S. Artists. Center for Cultural Innovation for the National Endowment for the Arts. Washington, DC.
2015. "The Internship Divide: The Promise and Challenges of Internships in the Arts," with Frenette, A., Dumford, A.D., and Miller, A.R. Strategic National Arts Alumni Project Special Report (2015).
2014. “Thinking “Bigger Than Me in the Liberal Arts.” Chronicle of Higher Education, September 19: B24.
2014. “Artful Living: Examining the Relationship between Artistic Practice and Subjective Wellbeing Across Three National Surveys.” National Endowment for the Arts Artworks Research series and Curb Center for Art, Enterprise and Public Policy special report.
2013. “For the Money? For the Love? Reconsidering the ‘Worth’ of a College Major,” with Danielle Lindemann. Change: The Magazine of Higher Learning. November/December.
2013. “Animating the Creative Campus -- Education and Engagement for the 21st Century.” Inside Arts, Fall 2013.
2013. “Meandering Multiplicity: Envisioning a 21st Century Creative Campus” in Engage: The Mount Holyoke College Art Museum, edited by John Stomberg. Mont Holyoke College/
2013. “Is an MFA the New MBA?” Fast Company, March 2013.
2012. “Painting with Broader Strokes: Reassessing the Value of an Arts Degree.” With Danielle Lindemann. National report, funded by the National Endowment for the Arts, and prepared for the Strategic National Arts Alumni Project. December 2012.
2012. “Placing the arts at the heart of the creative campus: A white paper taking stock of the Creative Campus Innovations Grant Program.” Association of Performing Arts Presenters, Washington, DC.
2012. “Double Majors: Influences, Identity and Impact,” with Richard Pitt. National report for the Teagle Foundation, New York.
2011. “The Iron Cage of Accountability,” with Douglas Dempster. Inside Higher Education, July 2011.
2011. “Let’s Get Serious about Cultivating Creativity,” with George Kuh. Chronicle of Higher Education, Fall 2011.
2010. “The Creative Campus: Time for a “C” Change,” with Elizabeth Long-Lingo. Chronicle of Higher Education, Fall 2010.
2010. Patronizing the Arts by Marjorie Garber. Book review in the Journal of Cultural Economics 34: 81-84.
2007. “Leisure in America: Searching for the Forest Amongst the Trees,” with David Touve. Getty Leadership Institute background report, J. Paul Getty Trust, Los Angeles, CA.
2006. “Riding the Train: Creativity and Higher Education” Inside Arts, July/August.
2006. “A Cultural Renaissance Takes Shape” in Rotman: The Magazine of the Rotman School of Management. Spring/Summer.
2006. “The Next Great Cultural Transformation,” with Bill Ivey. Chronicle of Higher Education, May 19.
2006. “Taking the Measure of the Creative Campus” Peer Review, a publication of the Association of American Colleges and Universities, Spring 2006.
2006. Art and the State: The Visual Arts in Comparative Perspective by Victoria Alexander and Marilyn Reuschemeyer. Book review in Contemporary Sociology 35: 6. 2004. Informing Cultural Policy: The Research and Information Infrastructure by J. Mark Schuster. Book review in Journal of Cultural Economics 27: 4.
2003. “Public Opinion and Politics” in Encyclopedia of Community: From the Village to the Virtual World, by Christensen, Karen and David Levinson (General Editors), Vol. 3, 1117-1122. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.
2005. “Why Public Funding of the Arts Needs to Find a New Frontier” in Wealth Management Magazine, 1st Quarter, 2005.
2004. “The Creative Campus: Who’s Number 1?” Chronicle of Higher Education, October 1.
2004. “The Creative Campus: How Do We Measure Up?” article for the American Assembly, March 11-13, 2004
2019. “National Institute for Creativity, Place and Equitable Communities.” Principal Investigator. (Kresge Foundation, $500,000)
2019. “From Turrell to Leonardo.” Principal Investigator. (Bruce and Diane Halle Foundation, $837,000)
2017. “Creative Placemaking Policy Fellows Program.” Principal Investigator. (National Endowment for the Arts, $100,000).
2016. “Studio for the Future of Arts and Culture” – collaboration with Bennington College and the Center for Cultural Innovation. (Ford Foundation, $50,000).
2016, 2018, 2021. “Projecting All Voices” – investigating diversity and inclusion at the intersection of the arts and higher education (Mellon Foundation, $1,400,000).
2016. “Culture Hub Phoenix: Exploring Art at the Intersections.” Principal Investigator. (Surdna Foundation, $280,000).
2016. “Creative Placemaking and Higher Education: Opportunities and Challenges for Building and Sustaining a New Field.” Principal Investigator. (Kresge Foundation, $620,000).
2016. “Who Stays, Who Leaves: Understanding the Career Trajectories of Arts Graduates.” Co-principal Investigator. (National Endowment for the Arts, $15,000).
2014-2016. “3 Million Stories: Exploring the Education and Careers of America’s Arts Graduates.” Principal Investigator. (National Endowment for the Arts, $50,000)
2012 to 2013. “Artful Living: Examining the relationship between artistic practice, subjective wellbeing and materialism across three national surveys. Principal Investigator (National Endowment for the Arts, $10,000)
2008 to 2013. “Strategic National Arts Alumni Project” Co-Principal Investigator with George Kuh (Surdna Foundation, the National Endowment for the Arts, and multiple other foundation partners, $4.2 million with $550,000 to Vanderbilt University).