2013 National Conference Call for Participation

By Imagining America | February 18, 2013

2013 Imagining America National Conference
October 4–6, 2013
Syracuse, New York

A Call to Action

Hosted by Syracuse University with Colleges and Community Organizations in the Region
Deadline: Friday, April 12


Conference Theme: A Call to Action

Imagining America: Artists and Scholars in Public Life’s 2013 conference in Syracuse, New York, builds on our 2012 conference, Linked Fates and Futures: Communities and Campuses as Equitable Partners. Designed as a call to action, our 2013 conference invites and challenges artists and scholars of many kinds to organize and engage in a democratic revival. A revival that’s prophetic rather than nostalgic, centered on the urgent work of imagining and creating a future that aligns with the deepest cultural and political ideals of a diverse people. A revival that invites and challenges campuses to be part of their communities. A revival that focuses our energy, time, and resources on positive possibilities pursued through a practical and productive politics, even while it also opens up and sustains a critical discourse about pressing public issues and problems. A revival that exemplifies and builds what Syracuse University Chancellor and President Nancy Cantor refers to as third spaces—open and public free spaces—where the work of democracy takes place.



Syracuse, New York, is a city with powerful and progressive political and cultural traditions. Historically, the region was a cockpit for the struggle for abolition, women’s rights, civil rights, and the rights of indigenous peoples. It was also a center of the arts and crafts movement, and home to hundreds of well-known artists, writers, musicians, and innovators. Those traditions are still alive.

This year, Syracuse University and several other colleges and universities are joining with the Onondaga Nation of the Haudenosaunee (Iroquois) Confederation and a community-based organization known as NOON (Neighbors of the Onondaga Nation) to mark the 400th anniversary of The Two Row Wampum Treaty, the first known formal agreement between the Haudenosaunee Nations and the European newcomers. The yearlong Two Row Wampum Renewal Campaign calls on the United States government and its citizens to honor the treaty. The campaign’s biggest public event is a 13-day canoe trip with Native People paddling side-by-side with allies and supporters down the Hudson River from Albany to New York City. Spiritual and cultural traditions will play an important role in this journey.

The partnership of the Haudenosaunee, NOON, and higher education is occurring in a third space, a space that can be both metaphorical and physical. By creating an inclusive environment that enables the full and authentic participation of all partners, third spaces intentionally leverage the capital of community-campus collaborators by helping unify academic and community knowledge. Such environments spark greater creativity, collaboration, and critical analysis.



In pursuit of Imagining America’s mission, the 2013 conference will be a space to cultivate strategies and alliances that reassert and claim not only higher education’s but everyone’s responsibilities and contributions to the work of building and sustaining a vital democratic culture. Our ambitious goal over the course of three days is to collectively develop and articulate a concrete and coordinated action plan—a plan we will commit ourselves to implement during the following year, drawing on the distinctive strengths and capacities of humanities, arts, and design fields. We will be weaving a critical discourse throughout the conference that examines the many ways of thinking about and acting within the public spaces where engaged art and scholarship occur. And we intend to infuse the entire conference with a spirit of revival that lifts and propels our energy and imagination.


Invitation to Participate 

We invite educators, students, artists, cultural workers, civic leaders, policy makers, funders, other concerned citizens and community members to develop sessions that point to the many possibilities for people to be agents of progressive, democratic change, and that illuminate the potential and challenges around key movements and themes. Imagining America seeks proposals from individuals and teams that present a strategy for engaging conference participants in one or more aspects of publicly engaged art and scholarship. These themes may include but are not limited to public humanities, community cultural development, public interest design, food justice, climate change, education, incarceration and reentry, urban connectivity and sustainability, and structural change within higher education.

Priority will be given to sessions that represent a range of initiatives and institutions. We strongly encourage individuals to use the proposal process as an opportunity for regional, national, and international organizing—connecting with colleagues and community partners to propose sessions that reflect diverse perspectives on a topic or theme.

Imagining America staff will facilitate additional connections among proposals once they are received. All accepted presenters must be willing to work with Imagining America to ensure that the session is integrated into the fabric of the entire conference and advances the conference goals.


Session Formats

Proposals for the 2013 national conference should take the form that best facilitates critical and dialogic exchange around the proposed topic. Sessions may take, but are not limited to, the following formats:

1. Seminar: An individual or team may lead a session with conference participants who have prepared in advance. Seminar proposals include strategies for pre-conference collaboration. We appreciate seminars with concrete goals for advancing work at the conference and/or for generating future collaborations among participants. After a limited number of seminars are selected, a call for participation will be announced on Imagining America’s website and listserv. Interested individuals will apply for admission to the session through the IA website. All confirmed participants will be included in the conference program as presenters.

Please note: Seminar leaders are responsible for convening participants, ensuring that they conform to expectations, and facilitating the session. Conference participants who have not prepared ahead of time but who are interested in the seminar will be welcome to audit.

2. Roundtable: Designed to generate discussion around a shared topic, issue, or action, roundtables begin with short statements (5-10 minutes) in response to questions distributed in advance by the organizer. The sessions are then largely discussion and feedback. Roundtables involving participants from different institutions, centers, and organizations are encouraged.

3. Workshop: A facilitator sets the agenda, poses opening questions, and organizes participant activities and discussions. The session can focus on specific skill development, problems, resources for higher education-community partnerships, or work and conversation on particular issues.

4. Performance and Dialogue: These sessions provide the experience of particular performance-based engagement methodologies or innovative models of engaged performance. Sessions must include ample opportunity for discussion and critique.

5. Media Session: The conference will include curated media screenings. We invite you to submit film, video, or audio clips, or excerpts from projects that utilize new media. Accepted submissions will be grouped and screened by themes and/or type of project. Sessions will be organized to allow for audience conversation with each presenter.

6. Poster: Conference attendees may present and solicit feedback on their existing and emerging projects by displaying a poster at a session dedicated to that format. Posters typically mix a brief narrative description with photographs, organizational or historical charts, maps, video, or other modes of presentation.


Deadline and Dates         

  • The web portal for submitting proposals is open now! Click here to submit your proposal.
  • The submissions deadline is Friday, April 12.
  • Accepted seminars will be notified by Friday, April 26.
  • Decisions on all sessions will be made by Tuesday, May 14.