Community Case Studies

The humanities have broad impacts on public life. Museums, libraries, colleges and university humanities centers, and other cultural institutions support civic engagement and play significant roles in K-12 education and lifelong learning. They help people protect and access their and others’ history and culture, creating opportunities for dialogue and understanding. They offer help to vulnerable community members, contribute to public policy, and support local tourism economies. While we have worked with many partners to document the impact of their individual programs, by capturing the cumulative impact of a wide variety of humanities work on community life, we can better advocate for a broader range of policies to support humanities work.


Through its Community Case Studies initiative, the National Humanities Alliance is documenting the impact of a broad range of humanities work on public life in three American communities. These deep-dives into specific locales aim to: 

  • Map the demographics of each community.
  • Offer a detailed picture of the humanities landscape in each community, accounting for humanities organizations large and small, as well as humanities work being done by other formal and informal community organizations.
  • Document the particular public impacts of the humanities in each place, with an eye toward possible divergent impacts for different segments of the communities.
  • Explore the policies, partnerships, and resources that sustain each community.

Each of the three selected communities has a unique humanities ecosystem with much to teach about how humanities organizations and work contribute to the public good. Ultimately, NHA aims to: 

  • Learn about the variety of contexts, communities, and public issues with which humanities work is engaged.
  • Showcase this work to community members, policymakers, civic groups, and others.
  • Illuminate what humanities organizations—especially underserved organizations—need to continue serving their communities in robust ways.

Throughout this multi-year project, NHA also aims to build capacity among organizations in the three selected communities. In addition to showcasing the communities’ strong humanities work through its own outlets, NHA will:

  • Offer resources and workshops aimed at building the capacity of humanities organizations to communicate the impact of their work to stakeholders, policymakers, funders, and the public.
  • Offer support in documenting the impact of humanities programs, including developing and implementing surveys and writing reports that can be used in fundraising, advocacy, and other outreach.
  • Convene members of the humanities community, providing opportunities to build partnerships and share strengths across institutional boundaries.
  • Support humanities organizations and practitioners in entering national conversations and networks, for instance by helping them participate in the National Humanities Conference.
  • Learn more about the needs of under-resourced humanities organizations, formal and informal, so that we can better serve those needs.

For more information about the Community Case Studies initiative, contact Cecily Hill, Director of Community Initiatives (