Public Scholarship, Place, and Proximity:
Imagining America at the University of California at Davis
Guest editors Erica Kohl-Arenas and Robyn Rodriguez
This is an announcement of the special issue celebrating Imagining America’s move to the University of California at Davis and the fifth anniversary of PUBLIC.
The next open call for submissions will be announced in February 2018.
This issue of PUBLIC investigates the opportunities and tensions involved in producing public scholarship at the intersection of university-community settings. Often missing from the debate about public scholarship is the relationship between university ‘anchor institutions’ and their specific regional geographies. For Volume 5, Issue 1, marking the transition of Imagining America to its new host campus at the University of California at Davis, the editors of PUBLIC, IA Faculty Director, Erica Kohl-Arenas, and UC Davis Professor of Asian American Studies Robyn Rodriguez invited scholarly and multi-media submissions from the UC Davis campus and Central Valley region that illustrate place-based approaches to public scholarship. Through these intentionally diverse examples of publicly engaged scholarship in the arts, design and humanities, we aspire to create a conversation about how the tensions involved in producing public scholarship are often established in proximities; how strategic regional emplacement is central to understanding the work of the public researcher, scholar and practitioner.
Home to some of the original ethnic studies programs, and host of enumerable creative, cultural, public scholarship, environmental justice, participatory design, and community development projects, UC Davis is a fitting home for IA. As a land grant university with a mission to serve the public good UC Davis has a long history of building campus-community partnerships. UC Davis’ history, however, is also marked by contradictions and tensions similar to yet distinct from those raised by Kelley, Coates, West, Turner, Boyte and many others. Inasmuch as its status as a land-grant university endows UC Davis with a mission to serve the public good, it has been implicated in Native American dispossession. Meanwhile, serving the public good has sometimes meant the bolstering of the agricultural industry while the region continues to be defined by migrant farmworker poverty. The rich history of public scholarship at UC Davis, often in response to the contradictions endemic to the Central Valley region, offers an important lens from which to view the role of public scholarship in the United States of America during a historical moment when fundamental issues of equity and inclusion are at stake.