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Who We Are


The Humanities Institute at Penn State is dedicated to supporting the generation and promotion of ideas in all aspects of the humanities and related disciplines.  We are committed to a collaborative and interdisciplinary spirit in supporting research projects at all levels of production and to help publicize the social value of humanities scholarship.  Through fellowship support, public lectures and conferences, workshops, and public outreach, we aim to support both Penn State faculty, other academics, and the wider public in ongoing discussion of the most pressing questions of our time.

The Institute provides space and support for a wide variety of endeavors.  Faculty and Graduate Student Residences, workshop and conference sponsorships, lectures and public media are offered to support the efforts of faculty and students in discussions of the fundamental questions of the human condition.

Legacy of the Institute for Arts and Humanities

The Humanities Institute is an outgrowth of the Institute for the Arts and Humanities at Penn State, which flourished since 1966.  The IAH developed numerous important initiatives and partnerships many of which will continue in some form.  The success of the IAH in developing research projects and producing the highest quality public events, lectures and performances gave Penn State international exposure as a premier location for art and scholarship.  The Humanities Institute is proud to inherit this legacy as we build our own unique programs and public presence.  Michael Bérubé, the final Director of the IAH was instrumental in enabling a smooth transition to a new Institute, and Associate Director of the HI Lauren Kooistra, continues in a similar role she played at the IAH, further aiding this building process with her acute skills and institutional memory. 

While the new Humanities Institute will place less of an emphasis on artistic endeavors per se and is housed entirely in the College of the Liberal Arts, we will continue to nurture partnerships between the humanities and the arts as we move into the future.


John Christman, Director John Christman

(814) 865-0495

John Christman is Professor of Philosophy, Political Science and Women's Studies.  He is the author of numerous articles and books in social and political philosophy, specializing in topics such as the social conception of the self, theories of justice and oppression, and the idea of freedom.   His books include The Myth of Property: Toward an Egalitarian Theory of Ownership (Oxford), The Politics of Persons: Individual Autonomy and Socio-historical Selves (Cambridge), and Social and Political Philosophy: A Contemporary Introduction (Routledge).  He is the editor of The Inner Citadel: Essays on Individual Autonomy (Oxford) and co-editor, with Joel Anderson, of Autonomy and the Challenges to Liberalism: New Essays (Cambridge).


Lauren Kooistra, Associate Director and Research AssociateLauren Kooistra

Associate Director
(814) 865-4197

Lauren Kooistra earned a Ph.D. in Music Education from Penn State University with a dissertation entitled The Experiences of Two Young Children in Informal Piano Lesson Settings: Expressions of Meaning and Value. Holding previous degrees in both Piano Performance (B.M., Gordon College) and Piano Performance and Pedagogy (M.M., Westminster Choir College), Lauren is interested in the ways that young children express and develop their musicianship within the contexts of their lived experience, with implications for learning and teaching. Her research focuses on application of these aspects within piano lesson settings, and her scholarship has been internationally published and presented.


Lori Sabatose, Administrative CoordinatorLori Sabatose

Administrative Coordinator
(814) 865-0495

Lori Sabatose is the Administrative Coordinator of The Humanities Institute. Her role is to provide operational, administrative, and facilities support to the institute and its leadership. Prior to joining the HI, she spent 18 years in Student Affairs at Clarion University and 5 years at Penn State DuBois. She was an Olympic Fellow for Tiffin University and worked on humanitarian projects for the London (12) and Rio (16) Summer games. She has a BS in Business Management and MA in Health and Human Services.  

TaylorTaylor Shipton

Graduate Assistant: Graphic Designer / Digital Content & Social Media Manager