The Humanities Institute at Penn State University

Promoting collaborative research on ideas

central to the pressing issues of our time.

HumIn Focus: Episode 6 is now Live!

HumIn Focus is a multi-part web series centering on pressing social issues through the lens of the work of humanities scholars. To learn more about the web series, visit the HumIn Focus website.

Episode 6 of HumIn Focus, “Humanity at the Crossroads: Stories of Diversity in a Tribalized World” premiered on WPSU on October 23rd, 2022, at 6:00 p.m. Click here to read the release announcement in the news. 📰

Episode 6 examines four stories of cultural confrontation: Chinatown in San Francisco, Jerusalem during the Ottoman Empire, Iran’s Jewish community on the eve of the revolution, and the creolized Island of Mauritius. With each story, scholars will discuss the attempts — some successful, some decidedly not — to preserve cultural identity while engaging in processes of transformation and cooperation across ethnic and religious lines.

 ▶️ Watch Episode 6 here.

Humanities Institute Annual Event 2023

with Qiana Whitted

Save the Date for the HI’s annual event coming this Spring
Wednesday, March 1 at 4:00pm

University Park Campus

Qiana Whitted is an associate professor in the Department of English and African American Studies at the University of South Carolina. She specializes in 20th-Century African-American literature, cultural studies, and American comic books. Click Here to Learn More.

This event will be followed by a reception for attendees.

Commonwealth Campus Center Nodes (C3N) Workshop

As part of a university initiative to create synergies across the Penn State University system, faculty at the Harrisburg and Greater Allegheny Penn State campuses, have produced a video series promoting the value of Humanities education, called “Humanities Works”.  The series is produced by Rosemary Martinelli and Catherine Rios.

Visit Commonwealth Campuses Collaboration Programs to view the recordings from this series.

Humanities Works Logo

History alumna creates fund to support undergraduate research in the humanities

The Humanities Institute is grateful to announce a new fund that will help expand research opportunities for undergraduate students. The Liz Covart and Tim Wilde Humanities Institute Undergraduate Research Fund in the College of the Liberal Arts will make it easier for students to participate in humanities-based research projects by supplying research materials and supplies, underwriting travel expenses, and providing other forms of support.

Read more here.

Thank you Liz and Tim!

Humanities in the World

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

Learn more about the Initiative
Find out more about Programming Resources for Commonwealth Campuses

Humanities Institute: Humanities in the World Logo

A Welcome Letter from Director John Christman

Dear Friends of the Humanities Institute,

Welcome to the new academic year.

I want to begin by sending out a heartfelt public thank-you to Tina Chen for serving as the Interim Director of the HI this past year. She and our wonderful team not only kept the ship aright but plowed on full speed ahead, all the while juggling the myriad challenges posed by COVID. Thank you Tina!

As I step back in to the Directorship I hope to pick up on the ongoing energy and momentum of our various projects and initiatives but also to reiterate the unifying themes that drive our efforts and orient our mission. These include an emphasis on cooperative scholarship and interdisciplinary work in the humanities, and to accentuate the public value of work in the humanities, especially concerning struggles for social justice and the greater social good.

In this vein, we are continuing with the Public Humanities Initiative in its various forms. Principle among them is the Public Humanities Fellows Program, overseen by our Associate Director Lauren Kooistra. The Program has drawn another full class to the “Introduction to Public Humanities” course this fall. As part of that initiative, we welcome Elizabeth Grey in her new role as coordinator of the Fellows Program and co-instructor of the Intro course and companion Capstone course in the Spring. The other instructor for these courses is Ashley Seering, who is newly arriving to Penn State and will be teaching also in the Bellisario College of Communications.

Thanks to the Humanities in the World Initiative, we are again able to host a full cohort of Visiting Scholars and Post-doctoral fellows at Ihlseng Cottage. We hope to introduce these scholars to the wider community soon. Two Visiting Scholars and two post-docs in this group are connected to the Mellon-funded Just Transformations Initiative, a multi-faceted project geared toward building and sustaining diverse communities in higher education. These scholars will join our line-up of Penn State faculty and graduate students who have been awarded our Resident Fellowships for this academic year.

We are also happy to announce, in cooperation with the Center for Global Studies at Penn State, a new program of Global Humanities Research Impact Grants to support Penn State scholars pursuing advanced global humanities research with a grant of up to $5,000 for international research travel.

We continue our production of the documentary series, HumIn Focus , also in partnership with the Bellisario College of Com. Co-executive producer Matt Jordan and I are excited about this ongoing work, which will include a new episode we are just completing, to be aired later this fall. The topic of the (yet to be titled) piece is stories of communities that confront social and cultural difference and attempt, and sometimes fail, to create complex, creolized identities against the backdrop of increased global tribalization. All episodes can be found at

We encourage people to use these films in their classrooms and other venues to facilitate discussion of the important issues they confront.

In addition, we will host a number of events that have been proposed by our faculty through our Faculty Invites process. Stay tuned for announcements of these exciting lectures, workshops and conferences.

Finally, guided by the central principles of our mission, we rededicate ourselves to promoting these and related themes as we work to support the amazing work that our humanities colleagues, students, and friends engage in.

Acknowledgement of Land

The Pennsylvania State University campuses are located on the original homelands of the Erie, Haudenosaunee (Seneca, Cayuga, Onondaga, Oneida, Mohawk, and Tuscarora), Lenape (Delaware Nation, Delaware Tribe, Stockbridge-Munsee), Shawnee (Absentee, Eastern, and Oklahoma), Susquehannock, and Wahzhazhe (Osage) Nations. As a land grant institution, we acknowledge and honor the traditional caretakers of these lands and strive to understand and model their responsible stewardship. We also acknowledge the longer history of these lands and our place in that history.