In 2021, the Axinn Center for the Humanities at Middlebury College received a grant from the Davis Educational Foundation to launch their Public Humanities Lab (PHL) initiative. Led by Axinn Center co-directors Febe Armanios and Marion Wells, the initiative offers courses that integrate humanities skills, content, and expertise into public facing projects, often done in partnership with a Vermont-based community organization. The National Humanities Alliance partnered with the Axinn Center to document the impact of these courses through surveys of students taking the courses and the faculty who taught them.
Each year, NHA works with our advocacy partners and allies on the Hill to cultivate sign-ons to Dear Colleague Letters requesting increased funding for various humanities programs. These letters are led by specific Representatives and Senators, and we encourage additional members to sign on, lending their support to the appropriations request.
As part of our NEH for All initiative, NHA worked with Southern University at New Orleans (SUNO) to document the impact of a program they implemented in 2021. Titled Pontchartrain Park Pioneers: An Oral History of New Orleans’s Civil Rights Era Segregated Black “Suburb in the City,” this program integrated local oral histories collected by the project director, Dr. Clyde Robertson, into six existing courses. Southern University at New Orleans is a Historically Black College located in the northwest corner of Pontchartrain Park—the first neighborhood in the city that was developed, financed, designed, and constructed by African Americans for African American residents. The oral histories integrated into the humanities courses at SUNO are those of some of the initial residents of Pontchartrain Park and reflect the social and cultural changes that they went through as this area was developed.
Yesterday, the Biden administration released its FY 23 budget request. Congress will now begin its appropriations process, ultimately drafting and passing bills that will fund the government in FY 23.
This past month saw the launch of a helpful new resource for articulating the practical value of undergraduate humanities education and addressing student concerns about career prospects: Arts and Humanities: Don’t Leave College Without Them. The image-rich, 350-page e-book is chock full of essays from students, recent graduates, and mid-career professionals that articulate opportunities for applying humanities knowledge and skills in today’s workforce.
With the new year we are pleased to announce the launch of Humanities for All’s Public Humanities Newsletter. Since 2018, Humanities for All has been working to connect scholars and practitioners interested in the publicly engaged humanities to create a national community of practice dedicated to advancing community partnership through the humanities.
On November 9, the National Humanities Alliance produced a virtual briefing on how NEH funding for public humanities discussions enriches our communities. The briefing focused specifically on the International Storytelling Center (ISC) in Jonesborough, Tennessee, with whom NHA had partnered to document the impact of their program, “Freedom Stories: Unearthing the Black Heritage of Appalachia.” Cecily Hill, director of community initiatives, was joined in discussion by Kiran Singh Sirah, the president of the International Storytelling Center; Alicestyne Turley, the Freedom Stories project director; and Adam Dickson, the Supervisor of the Langston Centre in Johnson City, Tennessee, and current Town Alderman of Jonesborough. The event was an opportunity for congressional staff and others to hear about the data we’ve collected on this program attesting to its tremendous value. Those involved in the project spoke about how it built space for dialogue and learning, and about how the discussions offered participants the chance to explore our rich histories and come together across differences.