Erica Cusi Wortham

Erica Cusi Wortham

Bio

Dr. Erica Cusi Wortham is a cultural anthropologist with an interdisciplinary practice at GWU that spans engineering, social science, art and design.  As Interim Director of the SEAS Innovation Center and Wernick-Richman Visiting Professor of Professional Practice at the Corcoran she focuses on creative problem-solving and human centered design. Dr. Wortham is an advocate for cross disciplinary, studio-based learning and community-driven innovation that centers equity and sustainability.  In the classroom and through her work at SEAS, she strives to foster cross-disciplinary competence and creative confidence while building inclusive and interconnected learning ecosystems at GW.    


Dr. Wortham joined GW’s Department of Anthropology in 2012 as a Lecturer and has had multiple teaching appointments across several schools and departments since. In 2017 she joined a cross-disciplinary teaching team piloting design thinking, social impact courses at SEAS and in 2018, Erica became a member of SEAS staff as co-director of the Innovation Center.  While Dr. Wortham wears many hats at SEAS her focus primarily is on teaching human centered design and supporting student impact projects, two facets that overlap with her recent appointment as Wernick-Richman Visiting Professor of Professional Practice at the Corcoran.  Erica will be teaching in Interaction Design and Studio Arts. 
She is currently co-PI on a three-year, NSF-funded research project that explores the relationship between social innovation learning opportunities and student engagement in engineering education with her colleagues Dr. Ekundayo Shittu (EMSE, lead PI) and Dr. Tiffany Sikorski (GSHED, co-PI).  


Through her ethnographic research with Indigenous media artists and activists in Mexico, Erica works at the intersection of culture, technology and politics to examine how artists reframe narratives that have been historically marginalizing (Indigenous Media in Mexico: Culture, Community and the State Duke University Press, 2013).  She has worked as a film programmer at the National Museum of the American Indian and more recently at New York University Libraries developing a digital Indigenous media collection with hemispheric reach. Dr. Wortham teaches one of the few classes at GW devoted to film studies and indigeneity for Elliott School’s LAHSP program, where has also curated Latin American film series. Dr. Wortham is a bicultural scholar of US and Mexican background.