2.S1 – Introduction

Vol. 2, Special Issue 1

ISSN 1948-3511
Welcome to the first special issue of Public Knowledge Journal. Although the editorial team here at Public Knowledge Journal pursues innovation in every issue of the journal, special issues present opportunities to further break the mold of traditional journals and bring our readers new and distinctive work. This inaugural special issue is dedicated to an emerging project at Virginia Tech titled Community Voices.

Community Voices is a collaborative initiative among Virginia Tech graduate students, community leaders, the Institute for Policy and Governance (IPG), Virginia Cooperative Extension (VCE), and the Center for Student Engagement and Community Partnerships (CSECP). The project provides a forum for sharing diverse perspectives on community resilience and innovation in order to generate new ideas and partnerships.

To accomplish this objective, Community Voices brings inspiring leaders from across the public, private, and non-profit spectrum to campus to discuss their thoughts and share stories about communities in southwestern Virginia and beyond. These leaders give short, engaging talks on each session’s themes, which are followed by discussion and dialogue with a diverse audience of Virginia Tech students, faculty, and staff, as well as interested members of the broader New River Valley community.

Themes and Questions

The theme for the first Community Voices series is creative leadership for community innovation and resilience. Imaginative leadership is an increasingly important component of community efforts to survive and thrive in the face of complex challenges. Innovative leadership can turn adversity into opportunity. An understanding of creativity in leadership is vital for communities facing economic, social, political, and cultural challenges with increasingly scarce support and resources. In rural Appalachia and our wider community here at Virginia Tech, communities face grave threats that undermine their very existence. Is creative leadership the answer?

To understand the dimensions of these issues, Community Voices draws upon the knowledge and experience of leaders who have forged success in the midst of crisis. These individuals address questions related to building partnerships across difference, democratically crafting a vision of the future, and promoting the exercise of personal and community agency. We hope that the insights of innovative leaders on these important questions and themes will generate conversations and ideas that can be acted upon by communities facing their own challenges.

Why Public Knowledge Journal?

From its inception, the organizers of Community Voices have imagined the initiative as a space for discussion about the ideas and actions needed for positive community change. Our speakers will be able to reach an engaged but limited audience in each of their talks. Making the ideas of these speakers available through Public Knowledge Journal invites more people into this important conversation. We hope that this special issue of Public Knowledge Journal will provide a space for reflection on and engagement with a set of ideas and themes generated through the Community Voices series. We invite you to join the dialogue and bring your own ideas and perspectives to the table.