Stories of Change:

The Power of Public and Activist Scholarship

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the Leading and Learning Initiative (LLI)?

The LLI is a three year action research project funded by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation. The main objective of the LLI is to better understand how to shift institutional culture and power in higher education to more fully support public and activist scholarship that engages the methodologies of the arts, design, and humanities. The question of ‘culture shift’ involves understanding the institutional norms and behaviors that marginalize public and activist scholarship and the successful strategies to support this important work. The LLI ultimately aims to radically redefine how we understand where and by whom knowledge is produced; and provide a grounded view and practical tools to advocate for institutional change. In the third year of the project, IA will launch a national campaign to demonstrate the power of public scholarship in the arts, humanities, and design and to advocate for institutional change. Stories of Change case studies will play a critical role in this campaign.

Please read the Year One Report to learn more about the LLI.

Our organization has never created documentary media, can we still participate?

Absolutely! The LLI encourages applications from all individuals with eligible projects, regardless of past experience in creating digital media.

My organization or project is not part of a member affiliated IA campus, can we still participate?

While preference will be given to IA member campuses, anyone is welcome to apply.

Will the LLI host training to assist in media creation?

The LLI will host online training focused on the art of storytelling and to introduce a range of formats, media applications, and software that can be utilized to narrate your project’s aims, methods, impact and change-story.

Who will review the applications?

The review panel includes the LLI research team, Erica Kohl-Arenas (LLI Principal Investigator), Kal Alston (LLI Co-Principal Investigator), and Christina Preston (LLI Research Associate) along with selected members of the LLI Leadership Cohort.

What media formats can authors/producers use to document their case study?

The LLI invites a wide range of media production formats, including but not limited to audio or video, digital illustration, podcast, digital archives, and curated online exhibitions. Each case study will also include a written narrative that describes your culture-change story, responding to the following questions:

A. How do the experiences and engaged work of less institutionally recognized knowledge producers (activist-scholars, artist-scholars, BIPOC, women, queer, and community-based scholars and culture keepers) radically expand our understanding of knowledge production? 

B. How do catalysts in positions of power (within and outside of higher education) further institutional change agendas on behalf of public, engaged and activist scholarship? 

C. How might the creative methodologies and forms of knowledge production in the arts, design, and humanities make higher education more responsive to pressing public needs and issues, while strengthening teaching and learning opportunities for scholars, teachers, and students?

What is the deadline for submission of the application?

The deadline for submission of the online application is March 10, 2021 at 5pm PST.

What is the deadline for submission of final materials?

For successful applicants, the deadline for submission of case study materials is September 15, 2021.

How will the LLI track progress?

The LLI research team will meet with each project after applicants have been selected. The LLI Research Associate will provide individual consultations via email, and through Zoom and telephone meetings midway through the project and before the case study submission deadline.

How will the LLI utilize the materials produced?

The materials created will be part of a national campaign to demonstrate the power of public scholarship in the arts, humanities, and design. The media created will be hosted on the Imagining America website, and shared through the IA newsletter and social media. Participants may also be invited to participate in IA’s StoryShare podcast, webinars, and the National Gathering.

If our project is not chosen, are there other ways we can be involved in the Leading & Learning Initiative?

Yes! Unfortunately due to budget limitations we will not be able to fund the documentation of all of the projects submitted for consideration. However the LLI will explore ways to engage all projects through a variety of methods. We are interested in learning from all who are interested in engaging with the LLI!

How and when will the LLI distribute funds?

The LLI will award each completed project a total of $2,000. Funds can be distributed to up to three individuals in three separate payments. It is up to the team to decide on how the funds will be internally allocated. Individuals are also welcome to apply. Payments will be processed as soon as case studies are completed up to the deadline of September 15th, 2021.

Who should I contact if I have additional questions?

Please contact Christina Preston, Research Associate at