University of Memphis announces new Institute for Arts and Health 

Feb. 10, 2021 — The University of Memphis is pleased to announce the establishment of the Institute for Arts and Health. The Institute will bridge the arts, humanities, social sciences, digital technologies and STEM areas, and aims to incubate and secure funding for transdisciplinary research and community engagement related to the Arts and Health. 

“The roots of the Institute stretch back to the spring of 2018," said Dr. Anne Hogan, Dean of the College of Communication and Fine Arts (CCFA) and Acting Director of the new Institute, "when informal meetings were held in various campus venues in which faculty, staff, graduate students, health and wellbeing practitioners and educational partners shared best practices for research and outreach broadly related to the arts and health.” 

The Institute will support a trio of sub-committees, each focused on different aspects of arts and health. These sub-committees include Arts Initiatives for Health in the Community, chaired by Susan Elswick from the School of Social Work; Health, Wellbeing and the Built Environment, chaired by Jenna Thompson of the Department of Architecture; and Health Initiatives for Artists, chaired by Miriam van Mersbergen from the School of Communication Sciences and Disorders. CCFA Dean’s Fellow for Research Melissa Janoske McLean will be working closely with the sub-committee chairs and with Hogan to advance ongoing and upcoming research initiatives. 

“I am thrilled that the efforts of UofM colleagues and community partners to drive innovation in this important area of research can further evolve under the auspices of the Institute for Arts and Health,” said Hogan. “And, I am inspired by the work that has been done to date. Achieving institute status is so important for us to continue our mission to increase the impact and visibility of arts and health-related initiatives.” 

Areas of interest for the newly established Institute include research centered around expressive arts therapy, ways that an environment or space can be improved to affect overall health and wellbeing and strategies for instilling healthy habits in artists through appropriate and supportive physical and mental practices.