Lisa Jo Epstein, an adjunct professor of Education at Arcadia University, is garnering well-deserved attention for efforts that combine the arts with activism. As founding director of Just Act, Epstein uses theater as a catalyst for positive change, both at Arcadia and beyond.
Just Act, a hybrid of artistic and community engagement committed to social justice, works to provide “a kit of creative techniques and practical engagement strategies … and support change seekers...to unravel dynamics of oppression, reweave connections, nurture new understanding of how to embrace conflict as a place of possibility, and reimagine action plans to build a just world.”
At Arcadia, Epstein is a facilitator for the Living Our Values Experience (LOVE) Pilot Program, a project of the Center for Teaching, Learning, and Mentoring (CTLM) that’s designed for Arcadia students to explore issues of identity, racism, and systemic discrimination, and to examine their own role within society as change agents. Just Act was a community arts partner with CTLM during the 2020/21 academic year, and the Just Act/CTLM ensemble was featured in December when the LOVE Pilot Program held a campus teach-in focused on racism.
A recent WHYY story covered Epstein’s involvement in an event that invited residents of a North Philadelphia neighborhood to provide their input on the renovation of a rec center by playing a board game. Just Act partnered with HACE for the program, held in the Fairhill section of the city.
Epstein also was recently recognized on Generocity’s RealList as one of 45 Philadelphia-area leaders whose work makes a difference. A nominator wrote that “Lisa Jo has guided residents to explore the possibilities that can emerge as community members share history and vision for change.”
Dr. Ellen Skilton, professor of Education, faculty director of CTLM, and board chair of Just Act, says she is “thrilled” that Epstein and Just Act are getting this well-deserved recognition: “We are so very lucky to have Lisa Jo as part of the Arcadia community. In her teaching, her collaborations with CTLM, and in her visionary arts-based community engagement through Just Act, we get to imagine possibilities for change that make the invisible more visible and the impossible more possible.”