We’re joined this month by the leaders of the Civic Imagination Project, an initiative started by a small team at the University of Southern California. We’ll be talking about how imagination and storytelling can bring communities together in our region.
Henry Jenkins is Provost’s Professor of Communication, Journalism, Cinematic Arts and Education at the University of Southern California. He joined USC from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, where he was Peter de Florez Professor in the Humanities. Jenkins directed MIT’s Comparative Media Studies graduate degree program from 1993-2009, setting an innovative research agenda during a time of fundamental change in communication, journalism and entertainment.
Jenkins has also played a central role in demonstrating the importance of new media technologies in educational settings. He has worked closely with the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation to shape a media literacy program designed to explore the effects of participatory media on young people, and reveal potential new pathways for education through emerging digital media.
He is principal investigator on the Media Activism Participatory Politics project. Jenkins’ most recent books include Participatory Culture in a Networked Society (with danah boyd and Mimi Ito) and By Any Media Necessary: The New Youth Activism (with Sangita Shresthova, Liana Gamber-Thompson, Neta Kligler-Vilenchik, and Arley Zimmerman). He is currently finishing a book on contemporary graphic novels. He blogs twice a week at henryjenkins.org.
Sangita Shresthova is the Director of Research of the Civic Paths Group based at the University of Southern California. Her work focuses on intersections among online learning, popular culture, performance, new media, politics, and globalization. She is also one of the authors of Popular Culture and the Civic Imagination: Case Studies of Creative Change (NYU Press, 2020) and of Practicing Futures: A Civic Imagination Action Handbook (Peter Lang, 2020).
Her earlier book on Bollywood (Is It All About Hips?) was published in 2011 by Sage. She is one of the creators of the Digital Civics Toolkit (digitalcivicstoolkit.org), a collection of resources for educators, teachers and community leaders to support youth learning. Her own creative work has been presented in academic and creative venues around the world including the Schaubuehne (Berlin), the Other Festival (Chennai), the EBS International Documentary Festival (Seoul), and the American Dance Festival (Durham, NC). She enjoys engaging with diverse communities through her workshops, lectures and projects.
Sam Ford works with organizations on innovation approaches, audience engagement, cultural intelligence, and media/storytelling strategies.
He has provided these services to a wide range of organizations, including Paramount/Simon & Schuster, Univision/Fusion Media Group, Peppercomm, WNYC, Lowe’s Hardware, WD-40, Kudelski Group, MacArthur Foundation, Microsoft, The Coca-Cola Company, Cinema Foundation, Poynter, and the U.S. Department of State.
As executive director of AccelerateKY, Sam works on various initiatives to connect, inform, and inspire others in support of Kentucky’s capacity for innovation. The organization, launched in 2021, built on work in partnership with various MIT labs, and Kentucky’s being the first U.S. state to ever go through MIT’s Regional Entrepreneurship Acceleration Program (REAP). In addition to other projects, Sam has supported the development of the Kentucky-based nonprofit Metals Innovation Initiative, established in 2022.