Headquartered at Syracuse University in upstate New York, Imagining America: Artists and Scholars in Public Life (IA) is a consortium of radical groups with chapters located at 100+ publicly funded academic institutions across the United States. Quietly seeking to transform the arts and other academic disciplines into vehicles of left-wing extremism and indoctrination, IA grew out of President Bill Clinton‘s Executive Order 13072, which on February 2, 1998 created the White House Millennium Council. Headed by then-First Lady Hillary Clinton, the Council’s purpose was to “produce informational and resource materials to educate the American people concerning our Nation’s past and to inspire thought concerning the future.” IA was subsequently founded at a 1999 White House Conference initiated by this same Millennium Council in conjunction with the University of Michigan and the Woodrow Wilson National Fellowship Foundation. The founding director of IA was University of Michigan professor Julie Ellison. IA’s headquarters were hosted by the University of Michigan until 2007, and since then have been housed at Syracuse.
According to its current mission statement: “Imagining America advances knowledge and creativity through publicly engaged scholarship that draws on humanities, arts, and design. We catalyze change in campus practices, structures, and policies that enables publicly engaged artists and scholars to thrive and contribute to community action and revitalization.” As investigative journalist Matthew Vadum explains, the term “publicly engaged scholarship” serves as a euphemism for “politicized scholarship” that is focused on “righting the perceived wrongs of the past and changing society in furtherance of so-called social justice.”
In early 2012, IA proudly announced that it was working with the White House Office of Public Engagement, the U.S. Department of Education, and various independent activist groups to publicly launch the American Commonwealth Partnership (ACP), “a yearlong initiative to promote higher education as an agent of democracy and a force for public good.” Matthew Vadum writes that in this context, “democracy” is “what the Left calls economic democracy, also known as socialism.” The director of ACP was the socialist organizer Harry Boyte.
In 2012 as well, the Association of American Colleges and Universities’ National Task Force on Civic Learning & Democratic Engagement issued a report (funded by the U.S. Department of Education) recommending that “existing national civic networks … be tapped and expanded for leadership in mobilizing the next generation of investment in civic learning.” The report singled out Imagining America, the Research University Civic Engagement Network, and Project Pericles as organizations capable of providing the “education” necessary to create “a democratic society in which the public welfare matters as much as the individual’s welfare, and in which global welfare matters along with national welfare.”
In a video promoting IA’s October 2014 national conference in Atlanta, the aforementioned Harry Boyte urged the fusion of higher education and left-wing activism: “I want to lift up organizing as a supplement. It’s different than action. In fact, organizing is not mobilizing. It’s not people out in the streets in a protest mode. It’s the patient, slow development of relationships that build power …”
Paraphrasing the famed community organizer Saul Alinsky, IA co-director Scott J. Peters said: “There’s a tension that organizers are always working, and that’s the tension between the world as it is and the world as it ought to be … so therefore we’re called to act.”
IA’s long-term objective is to transform society by “changing key structures and policies through action research, including those [structures and policies] related to access, equity, inclusion, and diversity in higher education.” The terms “access,” “equity,” “inclusion,” and “diversity” refer to measures designed to artificially equalize the relative educational and financial positions of all demographic groups.
Over the years, IA has received direct financial support from the Rockefeller Foundation, the Teagle Foundation, and the New York Council for the Humanities (a taxpayer-funded nonprofit). Other high-profile, left-wing philanthropies—such as George Soros’s Open Society Foundations and the Nathan Cummings Foundation—have given money to Syracuse University and the University of Michigan that also may have ended up supporting IA projects. In addition, IA charges taxpayer-funded educational institutions up to $5,000 annually in membership dues, which means that taxpayers fund IA indirectly.
To view a list of IA’s affiliate organizations, click here.
For additional information on Imagining America, click here.