The 2014 Imagining America conference, to be held in Atlanta, Georgia, October 9–11, is animated by three keywords: Organizing. Culture. Change. These keywords represent concentrations of energy and activity across higher education and within the IA consortium—contested terrains that demand critical discourse and analysis. We invite and challenge Imagining America consortium members, and their institutional and community partners, to sharpen our collective understanding of the nature and promise of organizing culture change; to provoke conversation and debate around the many meanings of these keywords; to explore the distinctive contributions that methodologies, concepts, theories, and knowledge from arts, humanities, and design fields make to the work of organizing culture change; and to illuminate how organizing culture change can transform higher education’s role in the work of democracy.
Culture change is already a reality, both within higher education and beyond. It is partly the result of powerful and complex global forces that are restructuring our institutions and reshaping how we live our lives, for better and for worse. Our conference theme is an invitation to engage but also move beyond the work of analyzing and criticizing the kind of culture change that global forces are producing. Through careful and critical exploration of work that is already underway in our consortium, our central purpose is to advance our collective capacity to organize positive culture change in ways that align with IA’s commitment to cross-sectoral engagement and mutually beneficial partnerships. To this end, we seek proposals that will offer opportunities for conference attendees to take up one or more of the following key questions:
- What forces for culture change are already underway in and beyond higher education? In what ways and to what extent are they products of intentional organizing?
- What specific approaches to organizing are IA members using (such as action-research, cultural organizing, popular education, broad-based community organizing)?
- Using the public narrative framework developed by Marshall Ganz, what is “story of us,” and “story of now” emerging within IA and among its members? How can these stories be used to ground, focus, and inspire effective organizing?
- What practices, strategies, and tactics will inspire and support the work of organizing culture change in ways that help us close the gap between our own best judgments of “the world as it is” and “the world as it should be”?
Senior Rebecca Braun wins top prize in a recent I Am USC Dornsife contest for her essay describing how her experiences in USC Dornsife have transformed her. Senior Brittany Lala places second for two life-like paintings connecting all species.
The library at USC Dornsife’s Joint Educational Project (JEP) is now named after the Tesoriero family in recognition of their philanthropic support.