Garnering Local Attention for the Humanities

This summer, NHA launched Humanities for All, a new website documenting the past 10 years of publicly engaged humanities research, teaching, and programming in universities and colleges across the U.S. The website presents a cross-section of the field, including over 1,400 projects that are searchable, sortable, and illustrated with 51 in-depth profiles that represent the range of the field. When viewed together, the scope and impact of this work become clear: publicly engaged humanities initiatives are building and strengthening communities; creating innovative and practical learning experiences for students and people of all ages and backgrounds; and broadening our understanding of ourselves, our nation, and our world.

One of the initiative’s key goals is to provide compelling examples of the broad public value of the humanities in higher education. The in-depth profiles offer fodder for media outlets interested in covering local work, which, in turn, brings more attention to the role the humanities play in their communities.

The launch of the Humanities for All website brought renewed media attention to many of the profiled projects. To offer one brief example, consider Clio, a GPS-enabled history website and app created by David Trowbridge of Marshall University in Huntington, West Virginia. The Clio website and app feature short entries on sites of local, national, and global significance around the U.S., all of which are created through collaboration between local history experts and professional historians. After Humanities for All went live, Trowbridge reached out to local media outlets including the local NPR affiliate, West Virginia Public Broadcasting, and the Herald-Dispatch. Both West Virginia Public Broadcasting and the Herald-Dispatch ran, highlighting the project’s national impact. Clio was front page news in the Herald-Dispatch. The mayor, chamber of commerce, and university tweeted it out. And listeners to West Virginia Public Broadcasting’s West Virginia Morning were introduced to the project and its value, highlighting a local site: The Coal House in Williamson, West Virginia.

This coverage helped raise awareness and broaden perceptions of the humanities across the state. It also led to a number of faculty members signing on to use Clio in their classes this fall, creating new engagement opportunities across the U.S.

We look forward to continuing to help facilitate the broadening of narratives around the humanities across the nation. If you see a project that isn’t listed but should be, Humanities for All would also welcome your contributions of new publicly engaged humanities projects via the website’s submissions portal.


Photo Credit:

Thumbnail image: Students using Clio to discover archival materials relating to the world around them. Image courtesy of Clio.

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