A National Arts and Humanities Month announcement

So, I just learned today, half way into the month, that October in the US is National Arts and Humanities month. Who knew?

Well, from now one I will know, and it will be my business to know, because…drumroll please…I have been named the new Director of the Humanities Institute at Rust Belt University.

Our HI was founded in the 80s, but it’s been defunct for about 5 or 6 years now, so I’m essentially presiding over a “reboot,” Humanities Institute 2.0, an HI for the 21st century. I think I’ll take Doctor Who and Sherlock as my models (though with less of Steven Moffat’s disappointing sexism, thankyouverymuch), since the old HI was pretty beloved here and I want both to do it justice, but also to make it new, to make it useful for the humanities at RBU now. I’m meeting with my college’s dean this week to start the ball rolling — including putting together a steering committee, etc.– and I’m going to work on a draft mission statement today. We’ve only got a small budget to start with, so for our first semester of events and activities, I need to keep things realistic as I also seek out other funding. But my general vision for the Institute is one that makes connections: across humanities disciplines (and with those scholars who do humanities-type work in non-humanities departments), of course, but also between RBU and the wider community. I also primarily want the Institute to be an engine of advocacy and support for the humanities, both within the university and in our community.

So, internet hive mind, if your university were just starting up a Humanities Institute, what would like to see it do?

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3 thoughts on “A National Arts and Humanities Month announcement

  1. Dr. V, that’s fabulous news — congratulations! And it does sound like RBU needs some humanities advocacy, based on things you’ve blogged about before. I’m sure you’ll be a wonderful leader of the rebooted Institute!

  2. You are right — connections. I assume your departments bring speakers, so you don’t need to do that; but funding working groups, cross-departmental networks of thematic interest, is really useful. (And I’m happy to talk separately, or at MLA, or. .. )

  3. Actually, Susan, our departments only occasionally bring in speakers. The English department, for instance, has an annual speaker event (which was just last night, actually). We’re a poor bunch here. But I do want to emphasize more what we do *here* and then maybe lend support to departments who want to organize a conference or bring in a speaker — aside from our kick-off event speaker. And we’re so small that I think maybe the cross-disciplinary working groups where there’s enough critical mass already exist as programs. I could be wrong. I’m speaking to the chairs and directors in the next few weeks and I’ll ask. But my read is that we’re silo-ized by the fact of our shrinking faculty. But I do want us to know better what other departments are doing!

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