March 10, 2015

Inviting Student Photography Submissions For Off-Broadway Exhibit about Our Diverse American Identity

Photo by Gary Schneider from the Joy of Giving Something Photography Collection.

Students, submit your photographs by April 2 for an exhibit about our diverse American identity in Manhattan’s Broadway district! Considering the complicated DNA made visible by the mapping of the human genome, we invite student photography about your family’s cultural roots and how you think of your own diverse American identity in terms of race and ethnicity.

The exhibit will coincide with the April 9-26 musical production of Betsy!, which tells the story of a Puerto Rican Latin Jazz singer forced to confront family secrets about her Scotch-Irish and Appalachian roots. Roadside Theater and Pregones Theater/Puerto Rican Traveling Theater co-created the musical, and the Joy of Giving Something Foundation is generously sponsoring this exhibit.

Why Participate?

Twenty-five students will have their photographs printed and physically exhibited during the April 9-26 run of Betsy! at Pregones Theater/Puerto Rican Traveling Theater (304 West 47th Street). In addition to receiving three tickets to Betsy!, these students will be invited to a reception and receive recognition in the show playbill. All photos received will be showcased on websites and social media of the participating organizations, which boast national audiences of more than ten thousand people.

Submit Your Photography

To participate, please complete the form below. Upload 1-3 images (saved as JPEG or JPG files, 1600 x 1200 minimum pixel resolution, and no larger than 5MB) and a short artist statement (less than 300 words) about the connection between your image(s) and the exhibit themes.

Submissions will be reviewed on a rolling basis. April 2, 2015 is the latest date to submit. Special consideration will be given to high school and college students in New York. For more information, contact Holly Zahn at

A webform by Podio – click here to get yours


More About the Organizations

The Official Logo-01Imagining America is a consortium of more than 100 colleges and universities across the country advancing publicly engaged arts, humanities, and design.




JGS_logo_compact-copyJoy of Giving Something Foundation has partnered with Imagining America since 2011 to elevate photography and digital media as a pathway for students to pursue their careers and make a difference in their communities.




PrintPregones Theater/ Puerto Rican Traveling Theater is home to a multigenerational network of Latino artists in the South Bronx and Manhattan that have developed more than 80 plays about Latino history, migration, and identity.





Roadside LogoRoadside Theater based at Appalshop in Whitesburg, KY, is one of a handful of professional rural theaters in the U.S. and has created more than 60 plays, including the single largest body of drama about Appalachia.


License, Representation and Warranty: By submitting a photograph for jurying, each artist grants Imagining America (“IA”) a perpetual, worldwide, irrevocable, non-exclusive, royalty-free, fully paid-up license (i) to reproduce and to display the photograph in various sizes (and to modify the same through cropping, in IA’s sole discretion) for the purposes of publicizing the award and IA’s activities, (ii) to reproduce the photograph for purposes of distribution to the jury and (iii) to display the photograph on the IA, Joy of Giving Something, Inc. (“JGS”), Pregones Theater/Puerto Rican Traveling Theater, and Roadside Theater websites. Artist grants the foregoing license without the requirement of further contact or compensation from IA. Artist represents and warrants that it has all rights necessary to grant the foregoing license to IA and, to the knowledge of the Artist, the exercise of the License by IA will not infringe the rights of any third party including any intellectual property rights, rights of privacy, rights of publicity or other proprietary or contractual rights.
February 17, 2015

2015 National Conference Call for Participation

America Will Be!
The Art and Power of “Weaving Our We”

Imagining America: Artists and Scholars in Public Life
2015 National Conference
September 30 – October 3, 2015
Hosted by UMBC

Co-sponsored by MICA
Baltimore, MD

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O, let America be America again—
The land that never has been yet …
And yet I swear this oath—
America will be! …
We, the people, must redeem
The land, the mines, the plants, the rivers.     
The mountains and the endless plain—        
All, all the stretch of these great green state—
And make America again!

–Langston Hughes
(excerpted from “Let America be
America Again”)

WE learn this ritual, this flirtatious dance
of catching spirits, collecting people
Adding them over and over to our WE.
And WE grow better and better at this graceful
effort, The new ones pull us, push, shape us,
helping define us.
This scares us, but also propels us, find our
center, test our bonds of connection…..

…Intentional, like a patient weaver, WE hold
the common thread while adding color, pattern
to loop together in the making of our unique
design for life.

Oh but WE are not always careful to make sure
that the design and structure can tolerate
contrast, resistance, unexpected and
sweet distractions.

For these…..these in the end, make our life
fulfilling, satisfying and……….
worth the living!

Akua (Carol Bebelle)
Excerpted from “Weaving Our WE,”
written for our 2014 conference

The members of Imagining America advance a vision of the world in which publicly engaged artists, designers, scholars, and culture workers play critical roles in enacting the promise and ideals of a democratic society. Together, we explore the power of shared identity — of understanding who we are and what we stand for, and therefore, what we are called to do.

The purpose of this conference is to facilitate bold, creative and effective work that enables people to build and sustain the relationships that will link our stories, fulfill the democratic purposes of higher education, and address our collective challenges.

Proposed sessions should be as interactive as possible, and provide opportunities for sharing and co-creating practical and theoretical frameworks that guide our understanding of engaged art, scholarship, and design. Those proposing sessions should note that over the past several years, significant energy and interest within the consortium has been focused on:

The Bold Power of Arts, Humanities, and Design

  • How, precisely, can and do the arts, humanities, and design impact the quality of life?
  • How do we create expansive learning experiences which blend community and cultural work with academic work?
  • How can arts, humanities and design — on their own and in relationship with other fields and communities — animate, elevate and extend the power of democratic public work and create the aesthetic disruptions that allow a space for new ways of thinking and being in relationship?
  • How can we achieve a productive synthesis between our practices of cultural critique and counternarratives, and other, directly participatory, entrepreneurial and hopeful ways of engaging?

The Power of Story/Narrative

  • How can we best tell the stories of our tangible successes in multiple areas of longstanding social challenge?
  • How can we best identify and articulate the specific and critical mechanisms of positive change that occur when we engage the arts, humanities and design to improve lives? What is the key research literature support that exists?
  • How do we tell our individual “stories of self” and our shared “stories of us” in ways that can transform our institutions into publicly engaged institutions and advance our work?
  • How we invite multiple stories and ways of knowing, and develop new kinds of relationships that advance a counter narrative of higher education as a space for risk-taking and transformation on campus and beyond?
  • How do we craft stories that are at once urgent and hopeful — that inspire people out of apathy, cynicism, and inertia, and toward a vision of the world “as it should be”?

Institutional and Community Transformation

  • How do we envision and manifest democratically transformed institutions, communities, and relationships?
  • How do we highlight and deepen understanding of emerging campus practices of democratic engagement and co-creation, changing policies and structures, and developing cultures of collaboration across disciplines and roles?
  • How do we develop creative, effective, and inclusive collective action in a society where vast gulfs exist between the lived realities of different racial, religious, and socioeconomic groups? How do we attend to the urgency of our work in ways that are ethical, collaborative, democratic and fully inclusive?

The conference planners envision our time in Baltimore as an opportunity to move beyond our individual comfort zones and to expand our circles of relationships and our ways of knowing and doing as we attend to the urgent task of transforming the culture of higher education in ways that are relational, inclusive, democratic, and just.

The submission platform will open on March 2, 2015. Submit your proposal here.
The deadline to submit proposals is April 3, 2015.

To learn more about session formats, click here.
To learn more about Baltimore, click here.
A hotel block is reserved for conference attendees at The Lord Baltimore Hotel.

January 29, 2015

Imagining America Remembers Dr. Randy Martin


Randy Martin, a long-time advocate and ally of Imagining America, passed away on January 28, 2015 after a two-year battle with cancer. 

Randy’s impact on IA and everyone involved with IA is difficult to capture in words. His intellect kept us alert, his generosity gave us hope, his clowning made us human.

The loss of Randy is hard for us to comprehend and the mourning will continue. We will find ways to commemorate and remain true to his legacy. 

Today, we simply stand in solidarity and compassion with those Randy touched and influenced through his life and work. 

Below, we have compiled several powerful examples of Randy’s work:

2012 IA Conference Opening Plenary Session – featuring Dr. Marta Moreno Vega,  Sonja Manjon, Randy Martin, and Jack Tchen.

LATERAL MOVES – ACROSS DISCIPLINES – is an edited conversation with Randy Martin and three members of the Cultural Studies Praxis Collective: Miriam Bartha, Diane Douglas, and Kanta Kochhar-Lindgren. The original conversation took place at the University of Washington’s Simpson Center for the Humanities in 2007. The transcript of the conversation was reworked and revised by the interlocutors and Bruce Burgett, the current chair of the IA National Advisory Board.Screen Shot 2015-01-29 at 4.10.56 PM

Linked Fates and Futures: Communities and Campuses as Equitable Partners? - is a piece written by Randy Martin for the first issue of Public: A Journal of Imagining America, following the 2012 IA Conference in New York City. It is a brief reflection on some dilemmas facing higher education, nonprofit organizations, and culture and community before considering a few ways in which Imagining America might address these challenges through its own efforts.Screen Shot 2015-01-29 at 4.12.05 PM

January 19, 2015

Introducing the PAGE2Ferguson Blog Salon

Welcome to the PAGE2Ferguson Blog Salon!

“How do we respect and invite one another into our multiple modes of response?” As PAGE Fellows processed and discussed our role in the aftermath of the November grand jury’s ruling in Missouri, we engaged in many email and video conversations. The opening question was one of many that were prompted in the last few months, as a handful of members of Imagining America’s PAGE program grappled with how we best show our support for the growing movement against institutional racism, structural violence, and police brutality.

As Fellows, we have chosen not to remain publicly silent in response to the tragedies in Ferguson, New York, Cleveland, and the countless other cities which are home to continued police brutality, an unjust legal and policing system, structural violence and white supremacy. We support the growing #BlackLivesMatter movement, its young leaders, and the numerous voices which have, and will continue to, lead through actions, words and art.

We feel compelled to make our engagement and processing of the current events public. We feel called to make visible the multiple ways we each analyze, grapple, hurt, empathize and understand the events as they unfold. We feel responsible to share our own voices and experiences, while also raising questions that prompt conversation and dialogue.

Our response won’t take the form of a single collective statement because we felt that a single document could not adequately encompass the complex, layered nature of our responses. Instead, we are working with the open and flexible format of a blog salon, inviting contributions in our most authentic voices: poems, songs, artistic pieces, essays, collaborative writing, transcripts of dialogues, performance recordings, and more. However, we are united in our intentions and goals for the salon: to stand as a community to make our simultaneous hope, outrage, frustration, mourning, processing, and solidarity both visible and public.

We have invited multiple perspectives from within the Imagining America community to contribute to the salon: PAGE Fellows and Co-Directors, who convene the salon; National Advisory Board members, who show support; and community partners, many of whom are part of the struggle on the ground and in the heart. This is a space to consider our involvement and experience of the #BlackLivesMatter movement.To consider the multiple experiences of those not adequately represented by #BlackLivesMatter, such as Brown, trans, or disabled allies. To consider how these movements have been received by White majorities. What is uncomfortable? What remains to be worked out? What frustrates you? Where can we make an intervention?

This salon is the launching point for continued dialogue and action – to show our commitment to this movement in which we fight for recognition of institutional racism, for the value of Black lives, for awareness of our intersectional identities that we each bring to movement building. Imagining America is what unites us, and we are proud to stand together, nurturing each others’ voices and experiences. Join us as we help one another learn from and process this moment.

We welcome reflections and dialogue from anyone within the Imagining America community. Please, consider leaving a comment on the posts.

January 14, 2015

New Book “Democracy’s Education: Public Work, Citizenship, and the Future of Colleges and Universities”

61tDrgBvjcLToday, Americans feel powerless to address mounting problems, from climate change to growing inequality and school reform. This sense of powerlessness is acute in higher education, where educators face what Paul Markham, in these pages, describes as an “avalanche” of cost cutting, profit-making colleges, distance learning, and demands that higher education be narrowly geared to the needs of today’s workplace. The Democracy’s Education symposium begins with an essay by Harry C. Boyte, “Reinventing Citizenship as Public Work,” which challenges educators to claim and exercise their often unacknowledged power in the face of such changes, helping to lead in the rethinking of education, the meaning of citizenship, the shape of work in the 21st century, and the challenges of addressing public problems.

Building on the activities of the American Commonwealth Partnership, a coalition he coordinated of several hundred colleges and universities to strengthen higher education as a public good, organized on the invitation of the White House Office of Public Engagement to mark the 150th anniversary of land grant colleges and universities, Boyte argues that higher education is the anchoring institution of citizenship. It shapes the civic identities and career plans of students and influences the practices and frameworks of a myriad of professions. In recent decades conventional views and practices in higher education have come to take work off the map, locating citizenship largely in voting and in off-hours voluntarism and service projects. As citizen teachers, civic business owners, citizen clergy, citizen librarians, citizen nurses, even “civil” servants have been replaced by service providers, Americans have become a nation of consumers not producers of democracy. Boyte proposes that higher education, an upstream institution in society, needs to reinvent citizenship as public work, work with public qualities, and educate our students for citizen careers, for our own sake and for the sake of the larger democracy. His essay includes case studies on what this looks like.

As a mix of educators and civic leaders respond to the argument and advance their own views and experiences in making change, a powerful story of productive citizenship and educational innovation emerges.

LEW-0344Presidents and public officials describe their roles as public philosophers and architects of far ranging policy changes. Faculty, staff, and students tell of reworking curricula, student life, and alumni relations, opening space and creating opportunities for students to develop civic agency and concern for a commonwealth which they are helping to create, building new connections with “Citizen Alum.” Students recount their discoveries and experiences of becoming “real” and powerful agents of change, and describe their plans for careers filled with public purpose. Organizers and civic leaders from outside higher education weigh in with useful suggestions. . Internationally renowned scholars from South Africa and Japan contribute insights about the civic challenges and opportunities their societies are facing. Leading political and social theorists analyze the roots of academic detachment and political dysfunction and describe new frameworks of making democratic change such as “civic science” and “civic studies,” embodied in concepts like “a craftsperson ethos” from Northern Arizona University, which may help to generate citizen faculty. And Lisa Clarke, one of the nation’s outstanding high school social studies teachers, calls for a movement of “teacher citizens” to be architects of empowering education, as relevant to colleges and universities as to K-12 schools

Democracy’s Education shows the possibilities for democratic change and revitalization in the society as a whole, if colleges and universities reclaim their soul through a renewed relationship with the citizenry, in the phrase of Kettering Foundation president David Mathews.

To order this book, click here.