Universities’ role in public life explored in ‘Imagining America’

When artists and scholars bring their creativity and intellect to bear on issues confronting the public, the results are bound to be innovative. A good example of this is new music faculty member Dr. Nathan Zeisler, who has united students in the College of Business Administration and the College of Musical Arts in a project that supports New Orleans’ educational and cultural revitalization efforts.

BGSU will host a conference next Monday and Tuesday (Feb. 25 and 26) exploring such engaged intellectual work. It will center on Imagining America: Artists and Scholars in Public Life, a national consortium of colleges and universities dedicated to public scholarship in the arts, humanities and design.

Organized by the Office of Service-Learning and the College of Arts and Sciences, the two days will comprise a variety of events. “We would like this to be a time for faculty to share examples of scholarship in the arts and humanities, and for them to build access to other colleagues who are thinking about scholarship, teaching and service,” said Dr. Jane Rosser, service-learning director. “We have representatives from some of the premier universities engaged in the fusion of interdisciplinary work and scholarship with teaching and outreach.”

Activities on Feb. 25 will focus on building a BGSU connection with Imagining America. Special guest is the organization’s director, Dr. Jan Cohen-Cruz of Syracuse University. She will meet with chairs and directors, speak at the first College of Arts and Sciences Forum of the semester, hold an interactive workshop on Publicly Active Graduate Education and attend a reception discussion of public scholarship in the School of Art.

Dr. Jan Cohen-Cruz

“Jan Cohen-Cruz’s visit represents a wonderful opportunity for faculty and students throughout the University to find ways to engage the public and address public issues through their scholarship in the arts and humanities,” said Dr. Donald Nieman, dean of the College of Arts and Sciences.

At the Arts and Sciences Forum in 308 Bowen-Thompson Student Union, Cohen-Cruz will look at models of higher education, contrasting the proverbial ivory tower with the engaged university. She will argue that they are not mutually exclusive, using as a case study a project in New Orleans. Time will be allowed afterward for discussion.

Imagining America began in March 1999 as a partner of the White House Millennium Council. Its inaugural White House conference produced collective support for a community of action made up of university presidents, faculty artists, scholars and community cultural leaders.

Cohen-Cruz is a former faculty member at New York University, where she produced community-based arts projects with students from the late 1980s until 2006, when she moved to Syracuse.

The cost of the noon luncheon before her free, 12:30 p.m. talk is $7.50 plus tax. To register, email Mary Hitt by Wednesday (Feb. 20) at or call 2-2340.

Regional networking day
On Feb. 26, BGSU will host the first networking meeting of Imagining America in this region, providing faculty, staff, administrators and students the chance to hear about some of the innovative projects going on, including Zeisler’s. Panel discussions with BGSU faculty and guests from other universities who are engaged in public scholarship will yield a “sharing of expertise, ideas, pedagogical methods and projects,” Rosser predicted.

Concurrent panels will be held from 10:30 a.m. to 12:15 p.m. and 1:45-3:30 p.m. in 308 Bowen-Thompson Student Union.

“I think this builds on some of BGSU’s strengths in the arts and humanities,” Rosser said, and will allow faculty and students to compare similar projects at Bowling Green and other universities.

All events except lunch at the forum are free and open to the public. Registration is required for the Tuesday networking meeting. For a complete listing of activities and participants, visit

The conference is co-sponsored by Imagining America, Ohio Campus Compact and the Office of the Provost, the College of Arts and Sciences, the College of Musical Arts, the School of Art, the Department of Theatre and Film, Partnerships for Community Action, the Institute for the Study of Culture and Society and the Graduate College.

February 18, 2008