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MSU leader and grad students share message to ‘prioritize joy’

“We were thrilled to join leading artists, humanists, and activists,” Long said. “We explored how to transform higher education through intentional practices that create cultures of care for students, staff, and faculty to be their best selves so they can do their best work.”

Long and students shared examples of university leader and graduate student relationships that exhibit positive benefits of learning about work involved in leading departments, programs, and organizations.

“We discussed how to do this work in thoughtful ways that are considerate of people, communities, and institutions,” Long added.

The panel discussion was partly supported by a grant from the Social Science Research Council and the National Endowment for the Humanities and its Sustaining Humanities Infrastructure Program. Long co-leads this work with Ruth Nicole Brown, chair of Michigan State University’s Department of African American and African Studies.

‘A gift to learn’

This year’s national gathering, held Oct 14-16, featured 78 concurrent sessions, three plenaries, and an interactive space for healing rituals and art.

Jess Reed, a Curriculum, Instruction & Teacher Education doctoral student, described the experience as a gift to learn from the hopes and journeys of others.

“Honoring place, space, and time is necessary for cultural remembrance, anti-oppressive resistance, and imagining rituals for personal and collective liberation,” she said. “Co-journeying alongside them at Imagining America helped me to be present and learn from other conference attendees and New Orleans community members… This conference gathered folks across all walks of life while allowing us to make space for grief, joy, and the ebbs and flows of our experiences.”

This past summer, Reed suffered a serious concussion while traveling abroad. “Attending this conference was a beautiful mark of my healing and exercising intellectual and spiritual stamina,” she added.

The Imagining America National Gathering is an annual convention of public scholars, artists, designers, students, and cultural organizers who address the most pressing issues of our times.

IA was officially launched at a 1999 White House Conference initiated by the White House Millennium Council, the University of Michigan, and the Woodrow Wilson National Fellowship Foundation.

View more photos here.

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