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

Annual Event

Since its establishment in 2017-2018, the Humanities Institute has hosted an annual lecture each spring to celebrate and interrogate the work of the humanities. In 2018-2019 we introduced an Alumni Award, given to a Penn State graduate who has made a significant impact in the humanities.

María Cristina García

Andrew Carnegie Fellow; Howard A. Newman Professor of American Studies at Cornell University

“State of Disaster: the Environmental and Policy Disasters that drive migration from Central America”

Wednesday, March 27, 2024 at 4:00 pm
110 Robb Hall, Hintz Family Alumni Center

María Cristina García, an Andrew Carnegie Fellow, is the Howard A. Newman Professor of American Studies at Cornell University.  She is the author of four books on refugee policy including her most recent, State of Disaster: The Failure of US Migration Policy in an Age of Climate Change. She is also co-editor of two anthologies, including her most recent Whose America? U.S. Immigration Policy since 1980. García is a past president of the Immigration and Ethnic History Society, and an elected member of the American Academy of Arts & Sciences. She serves on the History advisory board of the State of Liberty-Ellis Island Foundation.

What policies should the United States adopt in response to the growing number of climate refugees? Historian Maria Cristina Garcia examines U.S. responses to environmental disasters in Central America to see what lessons might be learned for shaping humanitarian and immigration policies in an era of accelerating climate change. Central America has been vulnerable to sudden-onset disasters like hurricanes and slower-developing conditions like drought, but the region has also suffered from policy failures that pile disaster upon disaster, forcing people to migrate within their countries and across international borders, where they have few legal protections.  Garcia’s presentation offers a view into some of the challenges of the present and future.

This event will be followed by a reception for attendees.

Congratulations to the Humanities Institute Outstanding Alumni Award Winner of 2024

Paul Hendrickson
Senior Lecturer at the Department of English, University of Pennsylvania

Paul Hendrickson is a three-time finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award and a winner of it once–for his 2003 Sons of Mississippi. His The Living and the Dead: Robert McNamara and Five Lives of a Lost War was a 1996 finalist for the National Book Award. His 2011 Hemingway’s Boat was both a New York Times and London best-seller. He has been the recipient of writing fellowships from the Guggenheim Foundation, the National Endowment for the Arts, the Lyndhurst Foundation, and the Alicia Patterson Foundation. Since 1998 he has been on the faculty of the creative writing program at the University of Pennsylvania, and for two decades before that he was a staff writer at The Washington Post. In 2009 he was a joint visiting professor of documentary practice at Duke University and of American Studies at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. He lives with his wife, Cecilia, a retired nurse, outside Philadelphia and in Washington, D.C.

Archive of Past Annual Events:

2023: Dr. Qiana Whitted gave a plenary lecture on “Desegregating Comics: Debating Blackness in the Golden Age of American Comics”. | Dr. John Lucas received the HI Outstanding Alumni Award of 2023. Click Here to See the Archive Page of the 2023 Annual Event.

2022: Dr. V.P. Franklin was presented with our 2020 Outstanding Alumni Award (delayed due to pandemic circumstances), and delivered our annual Celebrate the Humanities lecture (“Reparations, Reparatory Justice, and Youth Activism in the 21st Century”) as well. Additionally, we celebrated the donation of Dr. Franklin’s papers to the Penn State Libraries. Click Here to See the Archive Page of the 2022 Annual Event.

2021: The Humanities’ Many Futures: An Interactive Discussion with Exciting New Grant Opportunities | The Humanities Institute in Partnership with Humanities Without Walls

2020 (cancelled due to COVID): Quiana Whitted | Professor of English and African American Studies at the University of South Carolina

Alumni Award: V.P. Franklin | Emeritus Distinguished Professor of History, UC Riverside | History, ’69

2019: Sarah Willie-LeBreton | Provost and Dean of the Faculty, Swarthmore College

Alumni Award: Robert Newman | President and Director, National Humanities Center | English, ’72

2018: Michael Roth | President, Wesleyan University