Since 2001, the University of Texas Humanities Institute has brought together students, faculty, and members of the public to “think in community” about some of the most imortant issues of our time. Our interdisciplinary programs on campus and in the community are designed to challenge, inspire, and promote dialogue and transformational research. A gift to the Humanities Institute will help build and sustain intellectual community not only at the University but across Central Texas. Your gift will also support undergraduate and graduate student learning through public humanities internships and apprenticeships, and help us develop our new Health Humanities initiative. Some of our priority campus and community initiatives include:
Health Humanities Initiatives and Community Sabbatical Research Grants
Dr. Lynn Harter (Ohio University) speaking on “Narratives, Health and Healing” at the Health and Humanities Research Seminar
Drawing on partnerships with the health programs on campus, the Humanities Institute is working to position the University of Texas at Austin as a national leader in the Medical and Health Humanities. Researchers, educators, and students from colleges and schools across campus have convened through our Health Humanities programs to explore the crucial significance of stories and storytelling, to investigate how humanities training can deepen the capacity for empathy and further inquiry into health disparities, and to address how the humanities can foster partnerships among researchers, artists, health care providers, and community organizations. The Institute has hosted some of the leading scholars working in the health humanities, taking advantage of their insights as we develop our initiatives, including plans for a graduate degree and an undergraduate certificate in the Health Humanities. One highlight is the Health Humanities Research Seminar, co-sponsored with Dell Medical School, which every month brings together several dozen researchers from across campus and beyond to discuss work in progress, explore and debate shared points of interest, and incubate collaborative projects. With the help of a seed grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities, the Institute has undertaken a project called “Communities of Care: Voices of Healing and Endurance,” which partners UT faculty and staff with local health and social justice organizations to develop a sustainable digital resource that will allow patients, family members, and care providers to share their health-related stories. (Many of the organizations involved in this initiative have been recipients of our unique Community Sabbatical Research Grants, which partner UT faculty with directors of nonprofit community organizations to conduct research pertinent to the organization.) Our longer-term vision is for a Health Humanities Center that would significantly expand the University’s efforts in this transformative field.
Difficult Dialogues Workshops and Courses
Students discussing Dr. Eric Klinenberg’s (NYU) public forum on “Climate Change, Social Infrastructure and Inequality”
The Institute is a national leader of the Difficult Dialogues movement. Beginning in 2008 with a grant from the Ford Foundation, the Difficult Dialogues program serves students, faculty, and the public through offering undergraduate dialogue-based courses, teaching workshops, and public forums. Our workshops prepare faculty to help students explore controversial contemporary issues with an emphasis on informed and respectful exchange. In Difficult Dialogues courses, students learn to engage with challenging ideas in productive ways. Our public forums complement the course offerings by bringing visiting speakers to campus. During the 2018-2019 academic year, the Institute is partnering with an interdisciplinary research initiative, Planet Texas 2050, to host the series, Difficult Dialogues: Public Forums on the Environment.
Faculty Fellows Seminar and Distinguished Visiting Lecture Series
Meeting of the 2016-2018 Cohort of Faculty Fellows
The Humanities Institutes offers one of the most valued faculty development programs on campus. Every two years, the Institute gathers a cohort of faculty who meet weekly around a common theme (currently Narrative and Social Justice). This interdisciplinary initiative allows faculty to engage with colleagues in a broad array of other disciplines, expanding their research in exciting ways. Several times each year, the Faculty Fellows are joined by prominent scholars from outside UT who offer a seminar and a public lecture on the theme. These lectures extend the Fellows’ efforts to think in community by enlarging the dialogue to include students and the public. The theme for 2016-18, Health, Well-Being, and Healing, had an especially notable impact, creating a community of scholars and clinicians central to our Health Humanities initiative.