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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.

Airing tomorrow, Thursday (09/10/20) on WPSU at 9:30 pm is the next episode of HumIn Focus: "Who Counts: The Complexities of American Democracy". This episode looks at the history and current challenges of democracy in America.

Be sure to tune on WPSU TV and at on the web!

Visit HumIn Focus

Carol Anderson

One Person, No Vote:
How Voter Suppression is Destroying Our Democracy.

Dr. Carol Anderson, Emory University

Date TBD

See here for more details. 

This event is co-sponsored by the McCourtney Institute for Democracy, Africana Research Center and Richards Civil War Era Center. It is presented as part of “Moments of Change: A Century of Women’s Activism,” the College of the Liberal Arts theme for 2020, and the HI Who Counts? theme.

Humanities Without Walls Pre-Doctoral Career Diversity Summer Workshop      

Summer 2021                                                                           

The Humanities Without Walls summer workshop utilizes a fellow-centered approach to assisting humanities PhD students with the development of their careers. The workshop models effective strategies that enable our fellows to prepare for a successful job search today and for the career transitions which will come in the future.

Application Procedures and Requirements can be found here


Humanities in the World

We are excited to announce more new developments at the Humanities Institute under the auspices of the Humanities in the World initiative.

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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Register for Introduction to Public Humanities

The Public Humanities Fellows program continues to accept applications on a rolling basis. All interested Undergraduate Students may register for Introduction to Public Humanities LA 297-001 for Fall 2020! 

Click here to learn more.


lecturer holding microphone and notes

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.