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Humanities Institute

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Promoting collaborative research on ideas central to the pressing issues of our time.

The Humanities Institute at Penn State is committed to the development of humanistic ideas that connect with and are in the service of public concerns. As such, we declare our solidarity with those protesting police and other racial violence and the structural injustices that undergird and shape it. Our devotion to the study of history, philosophy, the languages, cultural studies and communication, connects us to the depths of injustice and suffering that current conditions manifest. We look with sorrow and solidarity to those victims of specific injustices and murderous assaults, both recently and throughout our history, and we support the voices of protest raised against them. We hope that the work we support can help in some way to bring to light and amplify our understanding of the complex historical and social dynamics that structure these injustices. For now, we join in the voices of protest against the forces of hate.

John Christman

Lauren Kooistra
Associate Director

HumIn Focus

HumIn Focus is a multi-part web series centering on pressing social issues through the lens of the work of humanities scholars.

The latest episode and panel discussion of "Who Counts: The Complexities of American Democracy", is now available for screening. To watch the episode, click here
The recording of the event "Reflections on Democracy in America: The View from the Humanities: A Conversation with Cynthia Young on the Meaning and Promise of Democracy after the Election on Thursday December 10" is now available here

Visit HumIn Focus

Humanities in the World

The Humanities in the World initiative includes funding for Visiting Scholars, Postdoctoral Scholars, and our Faculty Invites program.

To learn more about the Initiative, click here
To find out more about Programming Resources for Commonwealth Campuses,
click here

Public Humanities Fellows

Are you an undergraduate student in the humanities who cares about social issues? 

Do you wonder how you can relate your study of history, philosophy, literature or other humanities subject to the world?

A Public Humanities Fellowship at the Humanities Institute will provide you with experience relating your study of history, philosophy, literature, or other humanities subjects to the world. Click here to learn more.

Check out the Capstone Projects of our first cohort:

Whiteness, by Sara Jacques

Being Vulnerable, as a Man, by Yebo Chen

Juana's, by Carolina Navarro

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At the Heart of Every Other Question

In politics, business, and issues of social concern, the most trenchant challenges we face all rest upon fundamental questions about the human condition.  What does it mean to be human, a citizen, a biological organism, a member of a society?  What role does our history, and its complex conflicts and triumphs, play in our current confrontations?  What responsibilities do people have for themselves and their environment versus what concern should be borne by the rest of us in a caring and just world?  Where do we fit in the larger non-human world?  Countless pressing social issues turn on abstract and longstanding questions that are at the center of humanities research.

Ihlseng Cottage, home of the Humanities Institute

Walls that Transcend Boundaries

By providing a space for faculty and graduate students in the humanities to address the fundamental questions that underly the most pressing issues of our time, we foster collaboration, innovative approaches to research, and outreach that brings humanistic discovery and thought into the public domain.

two speakers on stage

Initiatives to Inspire and Engage

Through thematic programming series and public events, the Penn State Humanities Institute aims to open new lines of questioning for humanities scholars, engage the public in humanities research, and cultivate a community that can champion the human perspective in their lives and in their work.