The Imagination Network

Image by Jane Hoffer

What do Disney, the National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges (NCJFCJ), and the U.S. Army have in common? Representatives from all three organizations appeared at America’s Imagination Summit, the education event that Lincoln Center Institute (LCI) hosted in New York City this past July. Their presence was not arbitrary; rather, I believe that the dynamic intersection of such diverse influencers can lead to change in our country’s schools.

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NASA Looks to Americans for Aerospace Innovation

Eric Liu and I write about “challenge awards” in our book, Imagination First—prizes offered to people for accomplishing a stated task or solving a given problem. We point out the value of deliberately open-ended challenges, which create more room for bold and unexpected ideas to emerge. The NASA Innovative Advanced Concepts (NIAC) program’s recent call for proposals is a perfect example.

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Technology and the Arts: Can They Play Well Together?

The impact of technology on the arts has been a matter of debate at least since we had to be reminded to turn off our cell phones in performance halls.

At Lincoln Center Institute (LCI), we always prided ourselves on espousing the latest technology, but we also insisted on engagements with live performances. This duality was not easy to maintain, especially in a frosty economic climate, and, early on, technology came to the rescue in the form of video. After the students have attended a performance, they need something that will stay with them and be available as long as they study the subject: video allowed us to bring storytellers, chamber ensembles, and Shakespeare to classrooms where being stranded without technology would have meant being stranded without art.

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Imagination Conversation Report: Ringling College of Art and Design, Florida

Lincoln Center Institute (LCI) is proud to note that four Imagination Conversations have taken place since October, the last of which happened on Monday, November 7, in Florida. Ringling College of Art and Design hosted the Conversation, subtitled “A Start-Up,” and plans to hold more in the future.

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Imagination Now Is Back

My fellow bloggers and I are thrilled to announce the return of Imagination Now after a brief summer hiatus. Let me tell you about a few of the exciting developments that have kept Lincoln Center Institute busy in recent months.

LCI hosted America’s Imagination Summit—the capstone of our two-year, national Imagination Conversations initiative—on July 21 and 22 at Lincoln Center in New York City. The Summit gathered nearly 200 influencers—in business, government, science, and the arts, among other fields—to determine how to put imagination, creativity, and innovation at the center of U.S. public education. The event was streamed live to thousands of viewers across the country.

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Imagination Conversation Report: Big Thought, Texas

Here’s another in our series of posts about Imagination Conversations. There are certain organizations around the U.S. that are, like Lincoln Center Institute, committed to imagination in education. Big Thought, located in Dallas, Texas, is a leader among them. (Read about its accomplishments here.) I was therefore honored to deliver the keynote address at the event I discuss below. I witnessed understanding of the Conversations’ mission there, as well as Big Thought’s leadership role in what is already happening in their area and across the country.

The Texas Imagination Conversation, hosted by Big Thought, happened on October 14 at the brand-new AT&T Performing Arts Center’s Dee and Charles Wyly Theatre in Dallas. Dick Deasy, former director of the Arts Education Partnership, moderated a discussion between such impressive panelists as: Ballet Austin Artistic Director Stephen Mills; Dr. Jeffrey Davis, director of the NASA Space Life Sciences Directorate at the Johnson Space Center; Delores Etter, director of Southern Methodist University’s Caruth Institute for Engineering Education; and Ygnacio Garza, member of the board of directors of the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas, San Antonio Branch. Volunteer journalists documented subsequent “breakout sessions,” in which attendees talked about issues the panel raised and offered their own expertise as they assessed the state of imagination in Texas. Students got to watch a simulcast of the panel discussion and participate in their own breakout sessions.

Gigi Antoni, the impressive president and CEO of Big Thought, a Dallas nonprofit organization whose mission is “to make imagination a part of everyday learning,” says about Texas: “In a state with many voices, backgrounds, industries, and perspectives, a culture of imagination will be the linchpin in ensuring a unified start to the 21st century.” She goes on to call imagination “a bridge builder” that “marries thought to action, combines fields of work, and connects people and lives.” Returning her focus to Texas, Antoni notes, “If our citizens have a place to stretch their thoughts and float their ideas, we can face any challenge to come in the years ahead.”

More Imagination Conversation Reports will appear soon!

Click here to view all Imagination Conversation Reports.