(The following is an excerpt from the National Humanities Alliance quarterly column sent to scholarly societies, and shared here with permission)
To highlight the public impact of the humanities in higher education, the National Humanities Alliance recently launched Humanities for All: a website that documents 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 over 1,400 projects, searchable, sortable, and illustrated with 51 in-depth profiles. When viewed together, these initiatives illustrate the broad impact of the humanities beyond higher education.
Humanities for All not only seeks to broaden narratives about the humanities in higher education but also to deepen the practice of public engagement in the humanities. We at NHA have a stake in encouraging more of this work, which provides more opportunities for members of the public to have humanities experiences and appreciate the significance of the humanities in higher education. In addition, when integrated into coursework, engaged humanities projects can provide meaningful and practical learning experiences that prepare students for the workforce. To this end, we present these examples as a resource for all who would like to begin or deepen their practice of public engagement.
Examples of engagement abound in philosophy, all of which can inform our humanities case-making and practice.
Consider Hi-Phi Nation, a story-driven podcast about philosophy created and hosted by Prof. Barry Lam of Vassar College that introduces a broad audience to big philosophical questions. Lam investigates such diverse areas of inquiry as the nature of love and the ethics of killing in war, weaving non-fiction storytelling with philosophical discussion with field experts. Podcasting offers Lam ways to connect with audience members that differ from the ways people engage with writing, broadening the impact and reach of philosophical thinking.
The National High School Ethics Bowl headquartered at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill’s Parr Center for Ethics is another great example. The National High School Ethics Bowl brings high school students together to discuss complex ethical dilemmas after school and in regional and national competitions. Focusing on a new set of cases each year, topics can range from what to do when you don’t get along with your best friend’s girlfriend to the ethical considerations involved in the use of an anti-opioid drug.
We encourage you to visit Humanities for All to explore engaged humanities projects like these. To help us present the breadth of the field, Humanities for All also welcomes users to contribute new examples of publicly engaged humanities work in the U.S. via the website’s submissions portal. More broadly, we would appreciate your consideration: How can Humanities for All inform your humanities case-making and practice?