Cultivating Imagination:
Leading Toward
a Just Future


Following publication of Cultivating Imagination in Leadership: Transforming Schools and Communities (Teachers College Press, 2023), we have been looking for additional ways to get people thinking about the importance of imagination in responding to today’s educational challenges—among them, addressing students’ wide-ranging physical, emotional, social, and academic needs, and facilitating learning in contexts of inequity, violence, a world-wide pandemic, and the climate crisis. We recognize that entrenched processes, structures, and beliefs have shaped and continue to sustain inequitable educational systems that do not serve everyone equally. And we believe that educational leaders have a great opportunity and responsibility to lead in ways that disrupt the status quo that reproduces inequality; alongside students, parents, and community, educational leaders must imagine the ‘not yet’ of education. The education system must be a catalyst for changing inequitable relations. The Cultivating Imagination: Leading Toward a Just Future project is grounded in the belief that educational leaders require imagination to navigate complex and often contradictory pressures and envision new futures.

Imagination enables unlearning and pushing beyond the “we can’t” to open up new possibilities. We believe imagination is required for meaning-making in a turbulent world; it allows for understanding of self and the development of empathy for others. Leadership imagination is needed to not only improve inclusion and accessibility, but to alter the relationships with each other and how humans live in relation to the living natural world.The Cultivating Imagination project will offer a knowledge dissemination engine on a neglected topic: how imagination contributes to leadership and the practical ways leaders can and do cultivate imagination to support social and ecological justice. The Cultivating Imagination project will amplify practical and collaborative enactments of leadership that cultivate imagination and open up new possibilities for just education.

Our leaders’ stories will be shared through podcasts and blogs. They will explore how distinct ways of engaging imagination in the world—practices at the heart of an approach to teaching called Imaginative Education—shape their leadership. In this way, they will offer a critical, reflective examination of their imaginative practices and how those practices promote equity and social justice. The project will conclude with an interactive, virtual roundtable event (register here!).

Engage along with us! Listen to the podcasts, read the blogs, and use the resources to cultivate your imagination and imagination in your community. Share widely with your networks to help us address misunderstanding of what imagination means. Help us amplify what imagination practically is and what it practically does to support leadership for social and ecological justice.

Gillian Judson & Meaghan Dougherty (Project Co-Leads)

Latest Articles

  • Imaginative Leadership in Teacher Education
    by Cari Zall, Clinical Assistant Professor, Lewis & Clark Graduate School of Education & Counseling, Secondary MAT Program Note: This blog is in response to the Episode 3 Cultivating Imagination podcast. As a novice teacher 20 years ago, I entered my high school classroom with the intention and hope of … Read more
  • Walking with Bozley: Imagining Possibilities in Perceptions of the More-than-Human
    Victor Elderton, instructor and PhD candidate at Simon Fraser University Note: This blog is an extension of the Episode 10 Cultivating Imagination podcast. For as long as I can remember there have been four-legged companions I have shared existence with. With all of them I have been immersed in experiences … Read more
  • Preparing Leaders for Justice and Imagination
    Soraya Sablo Sutton, UC Berkeley School of Education and Woo Williams Zou, UC Berkeley School of Education and National Equity Project Note: This blog is an extension of the Episode 9 Cultivating Imagination podcast. “I often feel I am trapped inside someone else’s imagination, and I must engage my own … Read more