Imagining America partners with UC Davis, seeks proposals for creativity

NICKI PADAR / AGGIE

Fall conference will inspire community dialogue through arts, humanities, design

This summer, UC Davis will help stir creativity on the West Coast as the new institutional home for Imagining America (IA): Artists and Scholars in Public Life, a consortium of 100 universities and cultural organizations that inspires community involvement in the arts, humanities and design. UC Davis will also host IA’s 17th Annual National Conference from Oct. 12 to 14.

IA will move its headquarters from Syracuse University to UC Davis on July 1 for a five-year renewable term. IA is searching for creative takes on prevailing concerns such as racism, homophobia, labor equality and environmental justice in preparation for the convention, according to its website.

Community, Art, Land and Learning is an invitation for participation that embodies the conference theme. As opposed to a typical academic conference, IA hopes to receive proposals in the forms of workshops, performance and dialogue, media sessions and roundtable. The deadline to submit proposals is March 20.

“[IA is seeking] personal work around activism, community engagement, student leadership or issues that have been important to [students] that they’ve taken initiative to address in a creative way,” said Stephanie Maroney, a graduate student in cultural studies and a co-organizer of the conference.

Proposals from community organizations that want to host a workshop may receive up to $500 in funding from IA. Students and community members have a discounted conference registration rate of $125 for three days, $80 for two days and $50 for one day. The fee covers breakfast, lunch and transportation to off-site workshops. However, Maroney said some events will be open to the public without registration.

Maroney described UC Davis as an excellent choice for IA’s move and to host the fall conference due to the university’s commitment toward improving society.

“[UC Davis has a] really wonderful long-term sustained engagement with community work and community activism,” Maroney said. “Imagining America wants to build on what we’ve already done and continue to extend it in the future.”

Design for America President Meziah Cristobal, a fourth-year computer science major, discussed the mission of IA as a way to strengthen communication and ideas.

“Imagining America is focused on being a place […] where professionals and students alike come together to talk about the state of the union, celebrate the work that exists and collaborate on solutions our communities need,” Cristobal said via email. “Imagining America hopes to be a support system for those whose work are interdisciplinary and focused on engaging the community.”

Maroney added that the conference intends to radiate the mission of IA.

“[The goal is] to think about how the arts, humanities and design can really help to transform our world to be more just and equitable, and to enliven processes of democracy,” Maroney said.

The conference will include university groups, undergraduates, graduates, staff, community groups and anyone associated with the arts, humanities and design from across the nation. Maroney expects there to be approximately 500 to 800 participants.

To expand the conference into multiple adjacent communities, Maroney said it will feature site-specific workshops that will transfer participants to locations around Davis, Sacramento, Woodland and Dixon.

Conference faculty lead Brett Snyder believes the conference is a way to bring “disconnected efforts together” as “a powerful way of building a community.”

“There are so many different kinds of community-engaged projects and research endeavors across the university, but there hasn’t really been a way of […] featuring that component of Davis,” Snyder said. “I see this both as a way of featuring the existing, as well as charting new avenues and new possibilities.”

Maroney stressed the importance for students to immerse themselves in all aspects of their education and to consider their impacts on the world.

“I think that any undergraduate student, no matter what you’re studying here, you should be thinking about […] the knowledge that you’re gaining in this institution that you’re going to take out into the world,” Maroney said. “Anybody who has the privilege of a university education can think about how their work can better serve communities who don’t have the privileges of being here.”

Students are encouraged to submit proposals through the Imagining America website by March 20.
Written by: Jeanna Totah — campus@theaggie.org