Humanities for All: The View From 30,000 Feet

When we launched Humanities for All in July, it included a sortable database of over 1,400 publicly engaged humanities projects. For the first time, humanities practitioners, administrators, and advocates had access to a large-scale nationwide cross-section of work in the field. For example, a philosophy graduate student could find a whole corpus of philosophy projects or dig in more specifically and search for projects in their discipline that are based at a community college and address immigration. Building this database has offered a unique perspective on the field, from which a number of patterns have emerged concerning the methods, impacts, and communication of the publicly engaged humanities.

In celebration of National Arts and Humanities Month, we launched the first of four essays, which outlines synthetic observations on the field of publicly engaged humanities work at colleges and universities across the U.S. In addition to giving a broad picture of the field, each essay points to profiles of particular projects that illustrate the trends.

The first synthetic essay discusses five types of publicly engaged humanities work featured on Humanities for All, breaking down and illustrating the typology with examples from across the collection of projects on the website. For faculty and students interested in embarking on or deepening their publicly engaged work, these types offer a menu of possibilities. For advocates seeking to broaden narratives about the humanities in higher education, these types can serve as a structure and vocabulary for articulating the public value of the humanities to students, parents, administrators, and elected officials.

In the coming months, Humanities for All will continue to release essays exploring the field of publicly engaged humanities work in U.S. higher education. Next up is an essay on the various concerns that the publicly engage humanities are working to address. To keep updated, visit the Humanities for All website and follow us on social media.


Photo credit: 

Thumbnail image: The women of “I’m Still Surviving” control their own narrative in the project’s exhibition and book. Image courtesy of History Moves.

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