Colorful fabrics prepared for a Crochet Jam, a social-art practice of Ramekon O'Arwisters, during the first Happening at Imagining America (IA) headquarters.
December 2017 Newsletter
 In This Issue 

From the Faculty Director

Membership & Community
 Dudley Cocke, Kim Yasuda receive 2017 Randy Martin Spirit Award  
 Respectful Conversation, a project hosted by Harold Heir
Apply to the Intercultural Leadership Institute (ILI) Fellowship

Regional News
 First Happening at IA Headquarters

News from the Field
New research report highlights economic impact of the arts in rural communities
Ta-Nehisi Coates: Imagining a New America
A letter by 120 scholars and artists calls on New York City to remove racist monuments
Designing a high-impact college for returning adult students
UC Davis Chancellor: Grad students are right to protest GOP tax cut bill
The other student debt crisis -- the one you haven't heard of 
Theory of Change, essay series

Job Announcement(s)
 Communications Director
 Dean of Multicultural Life
 Assistant Professor, Digital Media Art/Design & Women's Studies
From the Faculty Director

Dear Imagining America community,

It is clearly a critical time to (re) imagine the United States of America. Shortly after the 2017 Imagining America national conference, journalist Ta-Nahesi Coates joined Krista Tippet, producer of On Being, at the 2017 Chicago Humanities Festival to discuss the necessity of “Imagining a New America.” Echoing the kind of ‘critical patriotism’ debated in the IA network, Coates reflected on histories of slavery, lynching, and police violence and wondered if we will ever get to a place where people of all political persuasions will love their country enough to see its past and present critically. Coates proposes that critical love, not unlike marriage where one promises to not give up while constantly improving the relationship, is a necessary element of patriotically imagining and making a new country.

More radically, in a public talk on November 30 at the Manetti Shrem Museum at UC Davis, multimedia artist and activist Dread Scott asked us to imagine a world without America. ‘Can you imagine a world without colonialism, exploitation, imperialism, selfishness, hate, or vast inequality?’ Scott provoked. Proposing that we will never create what we cannot imagine, Scott’s 30+ years of public art making invites audiences to become actors in the work of rethinking, critically engaging, and getting unstuck from seemingly entrenched political contexts. The moving stories from his most recent “Slave Rebellion Reenactment”—where 500 intergenerational Black Louisianans will march 26 miles to reenact an 1811 revolt by enslaved people—show how collectively embodied historical theater enables younger generations to know, feel, and be moved by the spirit of resistance and insurrection The project links histories of slavery to fascism through the ‘Never Again’ rallying cry of the Holocaust. This connects European allies who sheltered Jews from Nazi Germany with the leaders of the underground railroad and Freedom Riders of the 1960s. Scott’s radical provocations are softened by his romantic dreams of a better world and belief that we can create it together. Dread Scott closed by reminding an audience full of University of California, Davis students: “History is changed by below, by people like you.”

At the grassroots level, Dr. G.T. Reyes, Assistant Professor of Educational Leadership at California State University, East Bay, started a cross-campus movement to envision and build a better world through his #CrossThisOut campaign.  On December 1, Dr. Reyes arrived at his office to find his Black Lives Matter, Brown and Proud, immigrant rights, and personal nameplate signs all crossed out with markered Xs. In a Facebook post the next morning, Dr. Reyes shared his story and a photograph of his transformed office door, now covered  in a quilt of words that he would rather cross out (homophobia, islamophobia, ableism) and words that represent the work and world he is committed to (love, critical hope, community).
Within hours of posting the photo of his door on Facebook, #CrossThisOut quilts appeared on university and high school campuses across Northern California. Like Coates and Scott, Reyes asks us to name that which we will not tolerate on our campuses and communities, and he encourages others to creatively pronounce what we aim to build and create.
From the “Imagining America Anew: Ethnic Studies at UC Davis” exhibition at the Shields Library to commemorate the almost 50 year anniversary of the struggle for ethnic studies, to the UC Davis Humanities Institute Mellon Public Scholars and Research Initiative in Racial Capitalism, to student-organized protests about tax reform and student debt, to allied New York City public intellectuals and activists calling for the removal of prominent monuments across the country, to our first Happening at the IA headquarters in Davis, artists and scholars in public life are asking us all to re-imagine America in multiple forums and venues. We share some of these stories in this edition of the IA newsletter.

I leave you with one such imagining. During this year’s IA conference, we collaborated with UC Davis Global Affairs to support a cohort of Creative Documentation Fellows. All UC Davis students, these fellows participated in the conference with the task of looking, listening, and then producing a creative product that “Re-imagines America in the Global Context.” Fellow Jasmine Wade’s “Imagine Nation” includes a poem that brilliantly imagines the index of the final volume of the fictional tome The Rise and Fall of the American Empire. In closing, I hope you enjoy an excerpt from her creative documentation project below.

As always, never hesitate to reach out to us with a question, idea, or comment at Have a peaceful holiday season.


Erica Kohl-Arenas, Faculty Director, Imagining America
Associate Professor, American Studies

View: Index Poster – The Rise and Fall of the American Empire, by Jasmine Wade, Creative Documentation Fellow:

Membership and Community News

Imagining America (IA) unveiled the recipients of the second annual Randy Martin Spirit Award at the 17th annual national IA conference hosted by UC Davis. The 2017 award winners, Dudley Cocke and Kim Yasuda, are both civically engaged scholars and artists, and longtime members of the IA national consortium.
Harry Boyte, long time IA colleague and Senior Scholar, Sabo Center for Democracy and Citizenship, Augsburg College, will serve as a conversation partner in "Respectful Conversation, a project hosted by Harold Heir."
The Intercultural Leadership Institute is a year-long intensive leadership program for artists, culture bearers and other arts professionals. Applications are accepted from established and emerging artists, culture bearers and other arts professionals in various stages of career development.
Davis, CA and Regional Surroundings
Regional News

In preparation for our first Happening at IA headquarters on Thursday, December 7, IA staff prepared the local community to gather in various parts of the office. We planned for a loose and free-moving crowd, where folks might circulate throughout the space at will. Inevitably, within a half hour of starting the event, we were all crowded together in one space—filling our community room with warmth and chatter.
News from the Field
An important essay about College Unbound, a ground-breaking model of bachelor's education for returning adults, co-authored by researchers, faculty, and students in the program. 
Ta-Nehisi Coates spoke with Krista Tippett, On Being Studios, as part of the 2017 Chicago Humanities Festival before an audience of over 1,500 people, black and white, young and old. To a teacher in the audience who asks how to speak to the young now about the complexity of our world, he says, “Give me the tools. Arm me. Allow me to be able to understand why. That’s not hope, but I think that’s the sort of perspective I would’ve come from, at that age.”
Artists and scholars in New York City take on the pressing public question surrounding monuments and histories of colonialism and white supremacy.
Hearing Reports: 
[ Report 1 ]  [ Report 2 ]
An important essay about College Unbound, a ground-breaking model of bachelor's education for returning adults, co-authored by researchers, faculty, and students in the program. 
Chancellor Gay May writes, "I wholeheartedly support their protest. The House bill is an attack on higher education in the name of reform."
There’s a pernicious college finance problem you haven’t heard of, David Scobey warns: the nonpayment of institutional fees and charges that blocks many thousands of students from graduating or re-enrolling.
Theory of Change, essay series
IA National Advisory Board member, David Hoffman at University of Maryland, Baltimore County writes a series of short essays with colleagues from the American Democracy Project, The Democracy Commitment, and NASPA's LEAD Initiative on the future of civic learning and democratic engagement in higher education. The essays build on the emergent Theory of Change framework introduced at the 2017 CLDE Meeting. Three of five essays are published.
Job Announcement(s)
Communications Director (Whitesburg, KY)
Appalshop, Inc. is seeking an experienced, dynamic communicator for a central staff position. As our COMMUNICATIONS DIRECTOR, you’ll become part of Appalshop’s 50-year legacy of enacting cultural organizing and place-based media, arts and education to document the life, celebrate the culture, and voice the concerns of people living in Appalachia and rural America.  Link.
Dean of Multicultural Life (St Paul, MN)
Macalester College is hiring a Dean of Multicultural Life (Student Affairs Reporting Line).  This is a high-level strategic position with great potential to create positive change on campus and more broadly. Description Link. Application Link.
Assistant Professor, Digital Media Art/Design & Women's Studies (Athens, GA)
The Lamar Dodd School of Art and the Institute of Women’s Studies at the University of Georgia invites applications for the tenure-track position of Assistant Professor of Digital Media Art/Design and Women’s Studies. The appointment will be 50% in each unit, with tenure in the Lamar Dodd School of Art. Full consideration will be given to applications received by January 12, 2018. Link.
Imagining America (IA) advances public scholarship, community building, civically engaged learning and campus change through the bold power of the arts, humanities, and design.
As a national consortium of university and cultural institutions, we build partnerships among public scholars, artists, students, designers and cultural organizers who are addressing the most pressing issues of our time.
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