Recent years have seen a dramatic upsurge in publicly engaged humanities projects at higher education institutions across America.

In Indiana, students and scholars at Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis work alongside volunteers from the Ransom Place Neighborhood Association to explore the history of a predominantly African American community through archaeological excavations, oral historical research, and public interpretation. 

In Oklahoma, the Oklahoma Breath of Life, Silent No More Workshop brings together members of the indigenous community with faculty and students from the University of Oklahoma and the University of Texas at Arlington to develop communities’ capacities for language revitalization. 

In Mississippi, faculty at the University of Southern Mississippi, a chapter of the NAACP, and Hattiesburg (MS) High School collaborate on Front of the Bus­—an innovative curriculum on civil rights history for at-risk students.

Despite the importance of these initiatives, there is currently no comprehensive study of their extent, depth, and impact.


The Publicly Engaged Humanities: A Survey of the Field

The Publicly Engaged Humanities: A Survey of the Field project will document and present the full range of publicly engaged humanities work that college and university faculty and students have carried out over the past decade. Over 24 months beginning in April 2017, we will collect examples of this work and design and build a visually rich website that features representative project profiles and synthetic claims about the state of the field. 

This systematic survey will serve at least two important purposes. First, by providing both a state of the field and concrete examples of projects that have had important impact, a systematic survey will support the efforts of humanists who are interested in embarking on or deepening their own publicly engaged work. Second, a systematic survey of the current landscape will serve as a resource to advocate for the relevance and significance of the humanities in addressing society’s pressing concerns. When viewed as a coherent whole rather than as atomized anecdotes, the programs and projects that we will survey will provide a compelling articulation of what the humanities are and what they do for society.


The Publicly Engaged Humanities: A Survey of the Field project has received generous support from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.

For more information, please contact Daniel Fisher (Postdoctoral Fellow and Project Director) at or 202-296-2296 ext. 151.