Community Engagement

Corcoran Continuing Education

Corcoran's Community Engagement Initiative

"Innovative Engagement Through Creative Research and Practices"

Pilot Launch Fall 2018

Corcoran Connects aims to make social impacts through mutually beneficial partnerships between GW's Corcoran School of the Arts and Design and community organizations in the greater Washington, D.C. area. With the Corcoran’s proximity to the White House, policymakers, and other governmental institutions, we recognize the rich opportunities - and civic duty - available to address critical issues here in the nation's Capital. By providing students with in-field experience under the direction of a faculty member, such as the interior architecture program working with DC Central Kitchen to help redesign their space or creating small garden boxes in Ward 7 or 8 with the design program, we aim to find solutions to important current issues.

What is Project-Based Learning?

Project-Based Learning (PBL) organizes learning around projects or complex tasks precipitated by a problem and resolved through collaborative engagement. In this particular model of community engagement pedagogy, students relate to the community as “consultants” working for a “client” opposed to participants in a one-time group community service project. In addition, reflection is an important part of this model in that it links community experiences to course content, reasserting the importance of community work.

Previous partnerships:

Get Involved!

If you have a relationship with a local organization, have an idea for a project but no partner or know an organization with a need, please reach! You, or the potential community partner, should contact Samantha Steen at [email protected] or (202) 994-0496.

Ongoing Initiatives

Salon Doré Solutions on Equity series

Located in the heart of Washington, D.C., and one block away from the White House, GW’s Corcoran School of the Arts & Design actively seeks to engage and solve the pressing challenges our community faces. Embodying that mission, the annual Salon Doré series gathers innovative thinkers from diverse fields and outside organizations to engage in important conversations needed to bring about impactful social change. Read more here



William Wilson Corcoran Visiting Professors of Community Engagement

photo of joseph kunkel

Cristal Chanelle Truscott is a playwright, scholar, educator, dialogue facilitator and founder of Progress Theatre (PT). As a playwright, Cristal blends academic and pop-culture conversations to examine the concerns and struggles of our times. In addition to her PT plays PEACHES and ‘MEMBUH, her newest piece, The Burnin’ is currently touring as part of PT’s repertoire. Most recently, she received the 2016 Map Fund and Idea Fund grants to support her next piece, a site-specific project: Plantation Remix. Her artistic work has garnered recognition and grants from the likes of the National Theatre Project Grant (New England Foundation for the Arts), Ford Foundation, Theatre Communications Group, National Foundation for the Advancement of the Arts and the National Performance Network’s Creation Fund Grant. She is a recipient of the Doris Duke Impact Artist Award, which honors artists who are influential in the shaping of powerful creative movements in contemporary dance, jazz, theatre and related multidisciplinary work.

As a scholar, Cristal has served as Assistant Editor of the performance journal, TDR: The Drama Review;  Associate Editor for Azizah Magazine; and on the editorial boards of the publications Women and Performance: A Journal of Feminist Theory and Black Masks Magazine: Theater and Entertainment.  

As an educator, Cristal has been a professor, lecturer and speaker at various universities and arts programs including San Francisco State University, University of Houston, Spelman College, NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts, Columbia University and internationally at Wits University in South Africa, and Albeda College, DOX Theater Group and Theatre RAST in The Netherlands.

She completed her Master of Arts and Doctoral degrees from NYU’s Department of Performance Studies with a research focus on representations of spiritual diversity in African American Theatre before 1950.

Artist Talk

Mon, September 17, 2018; 6 – 8:00 p.m.

Join us for Cristal Chanelle Truscott’s artist talk at the Corcoran School.


photo of joseph kunkelJoseph Kunkel is a community designer and educator working on building capacity in Indian Country. His professional career has centered on community-based design, ranging from material research and fabrication, to community-based planning, design and development. His core design practices include, culturally appropriate design, community engagement, healthy housing design, design thinking, capacity building, urban mapping and way-finding design, native-to- place architecture, master and comprehensive planning. He is also a Northern Cheyenne Tribal Member.

Kunkel’s most recent work has been to research and share exemplary Native American Indian housing projects and processes nationwide and build and develop emerging best practices, which has lead to the development of an online Health Homes Road Map for affordable housing development in Indian Country,
funded by HUD’s Policy, Development, and Research Office. As an Enterprise Rose Architectural Fellow, Joseph worked directly with the Sustainable Native Communities Collaborative (SNCC), and the Santo Domingo Tribal Housing Authority (SDTHA). At the SDTHA Joseph assisted with the planning and development of a 41 unit Low-Income- Housing-Tax- Credit development, along with leading the housing comprehensive master plan, which started with an Our Town grant funded by the National Endowments for the Arts, and has led to an ArtPlace America grant award.

Bridging Boundaries ExhibitKunkel's spring exhibition, Bridging Boundaries, features critical conversations that investigate, re-imagine and create alternatives to physical and non-physical divisions by focusing on works of art and architecture that reconcile or otherwise address polarized geographies. It explore works of art across a spectrum of design tactics, ranging from policy to the development of alternative building typologies, to demonstrate how architecture and design can create spaces for unification and negotiation.

photo of Mel chinMel Chin was born in Houston, Texas in 1951. Chin’s art, which is both analytical and poetic, evades easy classification. He is known for the broad range of approaches in his art, including works that require multi-disciplinary, collaborative teamwork and works that conjoin cross-cultural aesthetics with complex ideas.

Chin also insinuates art into unlikely places, including destroyed homes, toxic landfills, and even popular television, investigating how art can provoke greater social awareness and responsibility. He developed Revival Field (1989-ongoing), a project that has been a pioneer in the field of “green remediation,” the use of plants to remove toxic, heavy metals from the soil. From 1995-1998 he formed the collective, the GALA Committee, that produced In the Name of the Place, a conceptual public art project conducted on American prime-time television. In KNOWMAD, Chin worked with software engineers to create a video game based on rug patterns of nomadic people facing cultural disappearance. His film, 9-11/9-11, a hand-drawn, 24 minute, joint Chilean/USA Production, won the prestigious Pedro Sienna Award, for Best Animation, National Council for the Arts and Cultures, Chile, in 2007. Chin also promotes “works of art” that have the ultimate effect of benefiting science, as in Revival Field, and also in the recent Operation Paydirt/Fundred Dollar Bill Project, an attempt to make New Orleans a lead-safe city (see These projects are consistent with a conceptual philosophy, which emphasizes the practice of art to include sculpting and bridging the natural and social ecology.

Chin’s work was documented in the popular PBS program, Art of the 21st Century. Chin has received numerous awards and grants from organizations such as the National Endowment for the Arts, New York State Council for the Arts, Art Matters, Creative Capital, and the Penny McCall, Pollock/Krasner, Joan Mitchell, Rockefeller and Louis Comfort Tiffany Foundations, among others.

Joseph Kunkel, 2018 William Wilson Corcoran Visiting Professor: Bridging Boundaries

Summer 2018: "Sexual + Being" Exhibition

The Corcoran hosted an art competition this past summer to launch “Sexual + Being,” a new sexual health campaign by the D.C. Department of Health. The contest featured pieces by Corcoran students and local artists exploring issues of objectification, intimacy, sexual choice, gender identity and other sexual issues. The Corcoran was honored to empower people to explore sex and body positivity, gender roles and sexuality.