Call for Participation in the Imagining America Conference (VIDEO)

What follows is an invitation to the UMBC community developed by UMBC’s Imagining America conference planning team (members listed below).

In October, UMBC will host the 2015 national conference of Imagining America: Artists and Scholars in Public Life, where scholars, artists, designers, cultural workers and community activists will gather to advance the public and civic purposes of arts, humanities, and design. Imagining America (IA) serves as a source for information and ideas in support of engaged undergraduate and graduate pedagogies, public scholarship, and university-change initiatives helpful to administrators, faculty, staff, and students who are seeking to strengthen or initiate campus examination of and involvement with real-world issues.

UMBC had been selected as the host of the 2015 national conference six months before the nation turned its attention to Baltimore in April. This selection was based on the potential for what other institutions of higher education and communities can learn from UMBC faculty, staff, graduate and undergraduate students, and alumni who continue to innovate, creating ways to meet societal challenges using scholarly, artistic, social, and entrepreneurial resources. In the aftermath of the Baltimore Uprising, these activities are even more relevant and timely.

UMBC’s IA planning team, consisting of staff, faculty, alumni, and graduate and undergraduate students, has led an extensive conference organizing process to: 1) help establish new efforts to support community and cultural initiatives with higher education research and engagement; and 2) develop and enhance collaborations among Baltimore’s institutions of higher education, particularly other IA university partners MICA, Morgan State University, and Towson University, and with cultural organizations and grassroots leaders.

President Freeman Hrabowski III will lead the opening plenary, “An Honest Conversation,” with Rebecca Hoffberger, Founder and Director of the American Visionary Arts Museum and Joseph Jones, Founder and President of the Center for Urban Families. More than 40 UMBC faculty, staff, graduate and undergraduate students, and alumni are presenting their work October 1-3 throughout the city at conference sessions, seminars, and site-specific workshops. There are still opportunities to get involved as a presenter by applying to participate in the conference seminars. Additional conference highlights include a September 30 pre-conference workshop on assessment of community engagement, an opening reception October 1 at 7:00 PM at the Baltimore Museum of Art where Phi Beta Kappa will present Imagining America with its 2015 Key of Excellence award, a Friday evening event called ¡Express Yourself! A Spoken Word & Drumming JAMM, and UMBC Dresher Center faculty microtalks and other sessions throughout Saturday in the Performing Arts and Humanities Building. For more information, please see UMBC will host Imagining America’s 2015 National Conference, Themes in Baltimore’s Story, and Addressing Social Inequalities in Fall Courses.

Please consider attending and encouraging others to explore the various conference sessions and workshops as UMBC hosts Imagining America from September 30-October 3, 2015. The conference schedule is available and registration is now open. Student registration costs are $75 (one day), $100 (two days) and $175 (three days).

Before September 7, faculty and staff registration fees are: $175 (one day), $300 (two days) and $350 (three days). The UMBC Planning Committee is working on fundraising to reduce the cost of registration, so be in touch with questions or ideas.

Thanks for thinking about how this work of public engagement might be useful to you and others. Post-conference UMBC community organizing is already underway to sustain and grow this work and our connections beyond the conference, into the future. If you want to talk through any ideas, please feel free to contact any of these conference Planning Committee members:

Romy Hübler, IA Fellow (

Bev Bickel, Language, Literacy and Culture (

Lee Boot, Imaging Research Center (

David Hoffman, Student Life (

Kathy O’Dell, Visual Arts (

Kimberly Moffitt, American Studies (

Kate Drabinski, Gender and Women’s Studies (

Viviana MacManus, Gender and Women’s Studies (

Tim Nohe, Visual Arts and CIRCA (

Rachel Brubaker, Dresher Center (

Steve Bradley, Visual Arts (

Preminda Jacob, Visual Arts (

Joby Taylor, Shriver Center (

Tom Moore, OIA (

Charlotte Keniston, OSI Fellow (

Tahira Mahdi, Psychology (

William Klotz, Education (  

Julianna Brightman, Interdisciplinary Studies (

Kelly Robier, Political Science and MCS (

Manisha Vepa, Economics (


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