Why Join

Joining Imagining America signals a commitment to advancing public scholarship and engaged creative practice in higher education and beyond. IA is the only consortium whose primary focus lies in the recognition that humanities, arts, and design are crucial to realizing the democratic, public, and civic purposes of American higher education.

Membership provides the ability to contribute to and access the intellectual and creative capital that is the consortium’s greatest strength. All member affiliates are actively invited to become part of a national effort to shape and frame conversations about enhancing a public culture of democracy on and off campus and addressing public problems through democratic scholarship.

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Member Directory

Imagining America is comprised of over 100 institutional members including public universities, private universities, 4-year liberal arts colleges, community colleges, cultural organizations, and schools of art and design. IA members strengthen the public roles of arts, humanities, and design fields through regional, national, and global research and action. Here’s the interactive map of our membership.

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Submit Your Story

Members of Imagining America are collaborating with communities through the arts, humanities, and design to help address community-identified issues and generate mutually beneficial scholarship. Our website is a portal for you to share about the motivations driving your work and the challenges you are facing. We invite stories about public scholarship and creative practice from communities and campuses across the country and internationally.

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Signature Stories

Stories are essential for both understanding and advancing Imagining America’s work. We invite you to read stories from our consortium, and share your own.

“The cameras have gone. I don’t know what to write. I don’t know what to say. I don’t know what to do. I am aware, though, that I must do something. My heart is pained right now as I live and pastor 10 miles outside of Baltimore City. Peaceful protests had been happening in the wake of the death of Freddie Gray prior to the riots that occurred. Yet, it was the ‘revolution’ that was televised. And yet still, in my consciousness, I hear the echoes of familiar names. Eric Garner. Trayvon Martin. Rekia Boyd. Walter Scott. Michael Brown. Countless others. Then, there is another word for which I am thankful and to which I am holding onto for dear life. Intersectionality.” ~Baltimore City is About All of Us, Enger Muteteke, 2014-15 PAGE Fellow

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Theory of Change

IA’s vision of democratic transformation is bold and ambitious. To guide our work of pursuing this vision, in 2013 we began an iterative process of developing and testing a theory of change. This process has led us to see the power of an approach to change that interweaves ideas and methods from broad-based and cultural organizing traditions. It has also led us to identify and implement five key strategies:

  • Organize diverse member-institution teams that distribute leadership throughout the consortium, following the organizing philosophy that civil rights leader Ella Baker promoted: find people who are already working, learn from them, and help them build power and move into leadership roles and positions
  • Awaken, develop, and unleash the bold spirit and power of the arts, humanities, and design
  • Facilitate and sustain a critical discourse to build and sharpen theory, knowledge, and practices
  • Activate and align a critically hopeful prophetic stance and voice (e.g., Langston Hughes when he says in his poem, Let America be America Again, “O, yes, I say it plain, America never was America to me, And yet I swear this oath– America will be!”)
  • Work to change key structures and policies (e.g., tenure and promotion, arts and humanities policies, etc.)

 

Presidents' Council

At a 1999 White House Conference, 21 college presidents founded Imagining America and created its Presidents’ Council as a brain trust on increasing the value of publicly engaged scholarship that draws on arts, design, and humanities. Today, the Council is comprised of presidents of IA’s 100-member consortium of colleges and universities, as well as former presidents, leading scholars and artists, and directors of peer organizations and foundations.

The Council’s annual Forum, which typically takes place in conjunction with IA’s National Conference, and the Council’s intervening virtual exchanges provide opportunities for higher education leaders to engage in critical discourse about their individual efforts and to devise collective strategies.

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