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 serves as the central organizing hub for Penn State’s Humanities in the World initiative, an effort aimed at supporting humanities work throughout the university.  Investing significant new resources into the HI, this initiative will allow the expansion of existing programs and building new ones, all showcasing the social importance of the humanities.  These include an expanded program for visiting post-doctoral fellows, an invitation to senior visiting scholars, and continued production of the video series HumIn Focus.

The Institute also provides support for a wide variety of endeavors for the university community.  Faculty and Graduate Student Fellowships, 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

Fall 2017 marked the Inaugural Year of the Humanities Institute, an outgrowth of the Institute for the Arts and Humanities which flourished at Penn State for the previous 50 years (1966-2016).  The IAH generated numerous important initiatives and partnerships, successfully developed faculty research projects, and produced the highest quality public events, lectures and performances, all of which gave Penn State international exposure as a premier location for art and scholarship. The Humanities Institute proudly inherits this legacy, as we continue to build our own unique programs and public presence.


Headshot of John Christman

John Christman

(814) 865-0495

John Christman is a 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).

Photo of Interim Director Tina Chen

Tina Chen

Interim Director 2021-2022

Tina Chen is Associate Professor of English and Asian American Studies at The Pennsylvania State University and author of Double Agency: Acts of Impersonation in Asian American Literature and Culture, which was named a CHOICE Outstanding Academic Title. Her national leadership roles include several stints as the co­-Chair of the East of California caucus for the Association for Asian American Studies; serving on the Executive Board of the MLA’s Division on Asian American Literature and the Speculative Fiction forum; and being the Founding Editor of Verge: Studies in Global Asias—an award-winning journal published by the University of Minnesota Press. She is the director of the Global Asias Initiative at Penn State and will be serving as the interim director of the Humanities Institute for AY 2021-2022.

Black and White headshot of Associate Director Lauren Kooistra

Lauren Kooistra

Associate Director
(814) 865-4197

Lauren Kooistra, Associate Research Professor of Humanities, 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 the application of these aspects within piano lesson settings, and her scholarship has been internationally published and presented.

Billie Jo Moslak

Administrative Coordinator
(814) 865-0495
Headshot of Event Coordinator Elizabeth Garrett Ceres

Elizabeth Garrett Ceres

Event Coordinator
(814) 867-0100
Headshot of Graduate Assistant Ashley Lamarre.

Ashley Lamarre

Graduate Assistant: Digital Content & Social Media Manager

Ashley Lamarre (she/her) is a dual-title Ph.D. candidate in Philosophy & African American and Diaspora Studies. Her research interests include Africana Philosophy, Black Feminist Philosophy, and Critical Philosophy of Race. She completed her BA in Philosophy and African American Studies at Lake Forest College. Ashley is also a Graduate Assistant for the Cultivating Underrepresented Students in Philosophy Fall Workshop and Summer Institute.

Headshot of Graphic Design Intern Tori Millsap.

Victoria (Tori) Millsap

Undergraduate Intern: Graphic Designer