2012 NYC Imagining America National Conference

2012 Imagining America National Conference

October 5-7, 2012, New York, NY

Linked Fates and Futures: Communities and Campuses as Equitable Partners?

Co-hosted by Caribbean Cultural Center African Diaspora Institute, Columbia University, New York University, and The New School

Slashed budgets, debt burdens, speculation unchecked, diminished access, narrowing measures of worth. Without support for a reorientation of values and realignment of priorities, higher education and community organizations committed to a just, equitable, and fully participatory vision of the world face a challenge to their most cherished ideals and in some cases, their very survival. Against these forces of unequal benefit, induced scarcity, and reduced expectation, this is a moment that calls for a bold and ambitious voicing of where our desired future lies and how we will get there.

The 2012 Imagining America conference, to be held in New York City, October 5-7, is an occasion to reflect critically on the shared predicaments of democratically-oriented, cultural work in higher education and community-based organizations; to articulate languages and practices of possibility; and to develop and strengthen cross-sectoral networks committed to moving such work forward. The conference is grounded in approaches and experience of the arts, humanities and design drawn from both academic and community knowledge—which is at once local, national, and global. Our aim is to craft a strategic, mobilizing, and policy-savvy framework for sustainable and mutually beneficial relationships that advances full participation of all constituents in the range of decisions that affect our common future.  Building equitable partnerships among higher education and community organizations into its design, the conference aims to develop and disseminate critical, collaborative, and creative forms of new knowledge and leadership. We seek to enlarge the scope of who participates in learning and knowledge production; how that knowledge is generated, valued, and shared; and how to develop solutions to the dilemmas we face. The work we undertake now will build conditions and relationships that are needed to address the crises facing our communities and institutions and enable us to reimagine and remake our future.

The IA conference will explore where campus and community fates are linked and how theory and practice, aspiration and action can be fruitfully entwined. The over-arching framework of the three day conference brings together New York City-based programming with initiatives taking place around the country. To maximize our work together, we ask all who submit proposals to take this framework into consideration and to place their own work in dialogue with the locally generated themes if possible.

The three days will be structured as follows: The first day begins with plenary sessions that include perspectives on shared visions and challenges from people positioned in higher education, community, and policy, with afternoon sessions taking place at various community sites around New York City. The second day incorporates report-backs from and performances based upon the activities and conversations from the first day and focuses on narratives of possibility and innovation. The concluding day is about identifying implications for institutional sustainability for public-minded campuses and community organizations, IA’s own organizational capacity, and national policy.