Dear PUBLIC readers,
Imagining America is excited to share this issue of PUBLIC: A Journal of Imagining America with you. The essays, artwork, and reflections included in this special issue, guest edited by Mina Matlon and Ron Bechet, build upon the theme of water as movement featured in IA’s online 2021 National Gathering. The contributions remain timely as our natural environment has much to teach us about healing, repairing, and creating a more sustainable planet in the face of ecological crisis.
This special issue is also important because it provides Imagining America with a model to build upon in the future: translating the rich dialogue, creative work, and engagement of the National Gathering into the format of an online, multimedia, interdisciplinary publication, keeping the conversation going beyond the reach of the annual event. This and other creative approaches to engaging public scholarship and creative work will inform a re-envisioning process for the journal. At the end of 2022 PUBLIC’s contract with Syracuse University will expire, marking the end of a 10-year partnership. Founded by then IA Faculty Director Jan Cohen-Cruz and design faculty Kathleen Brandt and Brian Lonsway of Syracuse University, PUBLIC: A Journal of Imagining America was one of the first open access, multimedia, interdisciplinary arts, design, and humanities journals. PUBLIC also uniquely focused on providing peer-reviewed publishing opportunities for graduate students, early career scholars, and creative practitioners whose work did not fit the mold of many academic journals. Following the groundbreaking work of Cohen-Cruz, Brandt, and Lonsway, today there are several open access, multimedia, online public scholarship journals, and many advancements in design, technology, and media sharing. In the coming year the IA staff and board will re-envision the future of PUBLIC, a future that will continue to serve emerging and renowned public scholars, artists, designers, organizers, and culture bearers and makers. This will involve developing a refreshed editorial manifesto, building upon the mission, vision, and values of Imagining America. It will also involve recruiting a new editorial board, representing leading public scholars, artists, publishers, and organizers inside and outside of higher education. Additional work will clearly include research and resource development.
The general mission to provide peer-reviewed publishing opportunities for public scholars, artists, designers, and cultural organizers remains the same. IA will continue to produce a beautiful, interdisciplinary, multimedia, free, widely accessible journal. Sharpened attention to cultural organizing, to institutional change in higher education, and to community- and movement-aligned forms of public, engaged, and activist scholarship will inform the planning process in the year to come. Please stay tuned. We may reach out to you along the way for your support as we roll up our sleeves and dream up the next phase of PUBLIC: A Journal of Imagining America.
In the meantime, enjoy Volume 7, Issue 1: The Shape of Us: Water Ways and Movements. PUBLIC will be on hiatus in 2023 as we co-create the future.
Faculty Director, IA