One of the great benefits of leading the Humanities for All initiative is having the opportunity to meet with NHA members to introduce them to the website and to learn more about their publicly engaged work. Over three days in the Research Triangle in North Carolina, I had the opportunity to learn from NHA members at the National Humanities Center, Duke University, North Carolina State University, and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
In Columbus, Georgia, Columbus State University is helping communities connect with their culture and their surroundings. In Putnam County, Georgia, the University of Georgia is working with K-12 teachers and students to explore the region's rich literary history. On March 8, the scholars behind these and other publicly engaged humanities initiatives from across Georgia and the Southeast gathered for the Georgia Humanities Symposium in Athens.
On May 15, 2019, Remembering Emmett Till by Dave Tell of the University of Kansas will be published by the University of Chicago Press. The book is the product of both publicly engaged scholarship—the Emmett Till Memory Project (ETMP)—and years of research and writing supported in part by the National Endowment for the Humanities. Tell’s experience shows how public engagement and publishing can go hand in hand.
At the University of Illinois at Chicago, Ömür Harmanşah asks his students to review the Humanities for All website in his “The Politics of Archaeology and Heritage in the Middle East” course. The goal is to provide an overview of the publicly engaged humanities and to reflect on the role of the humanities in addressing pressing global issues. At the University of Pittsburgh, Dan Kubis assigns the Humanities for All website in his “Public Humanities Seminar.” Exploration of the site served as the basis for a virtual meeting with NHA Deputy Director Beatrice Gurwitz and Humanities for All Project Director Daniel Fisher, discussing publicly engaged humanities work and how to make the case for the humanities in higher education.
On the evening of December 10, Newest Americans released the seventh issue of its multimedia digital magazine. The innovative publication tells the stories of Newark’s diverse residents who live, work, and study together on and around the campus of Rutgers University-Newark. The latest issue explores these stories with a characteristic richness, including a photo essay on domestic workers and a short film on the country’s oldest Portuguese-language newspaper. As is always the case for Newest Americans, the media was produced at Rutgers-Newark by and with communities beyond the campus.
Bowling Green, Kentucky is home to nearly 5,000 Bosnian-Americans, many of whom came fleeing war and ethnic cleansing in the 1990s. In late September 2017, the Bosnian-American community of Bowling Green came together to open “A Culture Carried: Bosnians in Bowling Green” at Western Kentucky University’s Kentucky Museum. The exhibition, which was recently extended through May 11, 2019, represents a product of the university and community’s ongoing collaboration to document and present Bosnian-American culture.
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.
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.