What is the Civic Imagination?
The Civic Imagination Project taps the civic imagination (our collective vision for what a better tomorrow might look like) to bridge perceived cultural gaps between diverse communities. The Project builds on eight years of research through Henry Jenkins's Civic Paths’ participation in MacArthur's Research Network on Youth and Participatory Politics, which culminated with the publication of By Any Media Necessary: The New Youth Activism.
We see the civic imagination as a tool and concept that can help us:
Imagine a better world
Imagine the process of change
Imagine ourselves as civic agents
Imagine our connections with a larger community
Forge solidarity with others with different experiences than our own
Bring an imaginative dimension to our real world spaces and places
The concept of the civic imagination provides us with an action and research agenda. We map the civic imagination through research, case studies, workshops and brainstorming session with people from diverse grassroots communities, ultimately creating a digital resource that will help us identify, map, and analyze stories that have inspired social action. We engage scholars and practitioners across disciplines in discussions, and we use these insights as springboards for analysis, writing and further workshops with community partners.
The link between theory and practice is an integral part of our process. We believe that democracy works best when we can bring together diverse perspectives, encouraging people to share their memories, dreams and hopes with each other. Such diverse perspectives provide the social foundation for civic life, especially when coupled with supports for people to find their voice and talk across their differences. Such are the primary goals of the practice-based community work we do. Our team is based in Los Angeles at the University of Southern California and we are keenly aware of the role that place plays in our own work; we actively endeavor to build bridges from the University to the outside world. Our collaborations and interventions attempt to harness the active imagination of disparate groups and create opportunities for creativity and network building.