Dr. Adam Bush
Co-founder and Provost of College Unbound
Key Interview Takeaways
Adam Bush is the co-founder and Provost of College Unbound; a degree completion college working both inside and outside carceral spaces of Rhode Island to ensure all adult learners are valued as scholar-practitioners, and have access to a Bachelor’s degree pathway. Dr. Bush has always loved to see how things work and take them apart. His work and practice has always revolved around improvisation, learning, collective action, and imagination. Dr. Bush has directed Imagining America’s Publicly Active Graduate Education fellowship program from 2010-2012, and sat on Imagining America’s National Advisory Board (2010-2019). He has sat on the Strategic Planning Committee of the Ashe Cultural Arts Center in New Orleans and is on the Steering Committee of the Great Colleges for the New Majority Network. He was also the director of experiential education for the Big Picture Company, where he designed and led oral history travel programs for public high schools around issues of race, music, migration and human rights, working to bring civic engagement to the forefront of liberal arts curricula.
Notably, he is the 2011 recipient of the K. Patricia Cross Future Leaders Award for Commitment to Academic and Civic Responsibility from the AAC&U, and the 2015 recipient of the John Saltmarsh Award for Emerging Leaders in Civic Engagement from the AASCU’s American Democracy Project. He has received his PhD from USC’s Department of American Studies and Ethnicity for his dissertation “Passing Notes in Class” which examined the origins of early jazz programs and the student and teacher-activist musicians that led to that institutionalization. His Building People’s Histories: Graduate Student Pedagogy, Undergraduate Education, and Collaboration with Community Partners has been published in the Journal of American History. Notably, his Catalyst Paper, Full Participation: Building the Architecture for Diversity and Public Engagement in Higher Education, offers a framework to integrate projects and people working under the umbrella of equity, diversity, and inclusion with those working under the umbrella of community, public, and civic engagement addressing the access and success of traditionally underserved students. Prior, he earned a BA from Columbia University and began his doctoral studies at UC Santa Cruz’s History of Consciousness program. As quoted in a USC News article A Leader With His Eyes on the Future Dr. Bush explains his innovative approach: “Through all of this work, what I’m really interested in is full participation that calls for a fundamental reorientation of higher education toward addressing equity and opportunity in deeper, systemic, more complex and more transformative ways.”