Our Mission

Imagining America: Artists and Scholars in Public Life

Vision, Mission, Values, and Goals Statement

May 2014 


Vision: Publicly engaged artists, designers, scholars, and community activists working toward the democratic transformation of higher education and civic life.

Mission: Imagining America creates democratic spaces to foster and advance publicly engaged scholarship that draws on arts, humanities, and design. We catalyze change in campus practices, structures, and policies that enables artists and scholars to thrive and contribute to community action and revitalization.


  • Full participation that embodies and enacts cultural and social equity, diversity, and inclusion
  • Critical and pluralistic approaches to ways of knowing about the world and acting in it
  • Creativity and innovation in developing and mobilizing theory and knowledge with communities
  • Reciprocity in campus-community partnerships, research and creative activity, teaching and learning, and assessment


  • Catalyze and sustain regional, national, and global conversations about publicly engaged scholarship that address significant problems
  • Advance diversity, inclusion, and intercultural dialogue as means for social equity on campuses and in communities
  • Demonstrate, document, and assess the impact of democratic scholarship and cross-sector collaboration integrating humanities, arts, and design
  • Model democratic publicly engaged scholarship and creative practice at IA’s host campus and among its member institutions
  • Promote forms of professional and leadership development that support publicly engaged scholarship, with attention to humanities, arts, and design
  • Support, mentor, and learn from democratic, publicly engaged graduate and undergraduate student scholarship

It is IA’s practice to review this document every other year as the landscape of higher education shifts in response to our work, and as we adjust our goals to changing needs within higher education. (Click to see previous versions from 2011 and 2012.)

Publicly Engaged Scholarship is defined by partnerships of university knowledge and resources with those of the public and private sectors to enrich scholarship, research, creative activity, and public knowledge; enhance curriculum, teaching and learning; prepare educated, engaged citizens; strengthen democratic values and civic responsibility; address and help solve critical social problems; and contribute to the public good.