Our Mission


Publicly engaged artists, designers, scholars, and other community members working with institutions of higher education to enrich civic life for all.


Imagining America advances knowledge and creativity through publicly engaged scholarship that draws on humanities, arts, and design. We catalyze change in campus practices, structures, and policies that enables publicly engaged artists and scholars to thrive and contribute to community action and revitalization.


  • Collaboration, participation, dialogue, and transparency
  • Creativity and innovation in developing and mobilizing knowledge with communities
  • Cultural diversity, inclusion, and social equity
  • 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 to the end of 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 development, including tenure and promotion policies, that support and encourage 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. (To see the 2011 version, click here.)

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.