UNH Receives Mellon Foundation Grant to Take the Humanities to the Public

May 30, 2018

Thompson Hall

The University of New Hampshire has received a three-year $724,000 grant from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, which will be used by the Center for the Humanities to host residential summer institutes that will train humanists to work in the public realm and embrace community engagement.

“We’re thrilled to have this support from the Mellon Foundation,” said Burt Feintuch, director of the UNH Center for the Humanities and professor of folklore and English. “The humanities help us think about how to live good lives in complicated times. This work is critically important in public life, and our week-long boot camps will help faculty and students think about how to contribute to the public good, how to reflect on social issues, how to think about the present in the context of the past, how to figure out what matters in the face of massive change. Our goal is to help humanities faculty develop innovative and meaningful ways to connect to civic life and for students to think about real-world applications of their classroom experiences and about possible career paths.”

The New England Humanities Consortium, a network of academic humanities centers and institutes in the region, will co-sponsor the boot camps. Member institutions will nominate participants and the boot camps will also include faculty and students from Howard University, building on a history of successful collaboration between UNH and Howard.

“The humanities are vital to our democracy and for addressing the grand challenges of our age, such as health care, urbanization, food sovereignty and the role of technology in human relations and discourse,” said Heidi Bostic, dean of the College of Liberal Arts. “We have a well-established history of engaged scholarship and the summer boot camps are a natural next step for the university in the evolution of our public-facing trajectory. We are grateful for the support of the Mellon Foundation as we continue to prepare our students for professional success and meaningful lives that support the wider society.”

This grant is part of The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation’s continued support for academic institutions as they endeavor to demonstrate, through counter-narratives offered by public humanities programs and initiatives, the essential relevance of the humanities to productive civic dialogue.

Post written by Erika Mantz.


Public Humanities

November 9, 2017

photo of six panelists at table

Six College of Liberal Arts faculty members presented on UNH’s innovative public humanities fellows program at the National Humanities Conference, held Nov. 2-5, 2017, in Boston, Mass.

The UNH Center for the Humanities annually awards up to three fellowships of $5000 each for publicly engaged humanities projects. The awards enable individual humanities scholars or teams to undertake collaborative projects, partnering with community or other public organizations, bringing humanities scholarship to bear in the context of advancing democracy, civic life and the public good.

Learn about the projects funded by the public humanities fellows program.

The faculty presenting at the Conference, pictured above, left to right, were Eleanor Harrison-Buck (anthropology), Christina Ortmeier-Hooper (English), Alecia Magnifico (English), Burt Feintuch (English and the Center for the Humanities), Nick Smith (philosophy) and Svetlana Peshkova (anthropology).

The conference, co-hosted with the Federation of State Humanities Councils, was the second in a series of three joint national meetings that bring the humanities community together as whole to consider how, by leveraging strengths, they can achieve broader public impact and showcase the fundamental role the humanities play in addressing both local and global challenges.

Nick Smith presenting

Professor Nick Smith

Svetlana Peshkova presenting

Professor Svetlana Peshkova


UNH and CCSNH Receive Mellon Foundation Grant to Support the Humanities

February 10, 2017

humanities class in session

Thanks to a $824,000 grant over three years from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, the University of New Hampshire and the Community College System of New Hampshire (CCSNH) will establish the New Hampshire Humanities Collaborative to promote study of the humanities, support the transfer of community college students in the humanities to the university and develop a humanities curriculum focused on grand challenges.

“This collaborative will illuminate the value of the humanities for civic well-being and career advancement by communicating to students the role of the humanities in providing a well-rounded education experience,” said UNH President Mark Huddleston. “It will also allow us to expand our partnership with the state’s community colleges.”

Currently about 700 students transfer from community colleges in New Hampshire to University System of New Hampshire institutions each year. Of those, only three percent enroll in humanities majors compared to the more than 20 percent who enroll in STEM majors.

“We’ve successfully partnered to provide pathways for community college students to matriculate into four-year programs but those efforts to date have been primarily focused on the STEM fields,” said Ross Gittell, chancellor of CCSNH. “The support from the Mellon Foundation will help us to not only illustrate the purpose and value of the humanities, but enhance our curricula and provide pathways for more students to pursue associate and bachelor degrees in the humanities.”

According to Heidi Bostic, dean of the College of Liberal Arts at UNH, the value of a humanities education may not be evident to students, whether they are enrolled at community colleges or four-year universities. “The humanities are vital to our democracy and for addressing the grand challenges of our age, such as health care, urbanization, food sovereignty and the role of technology in human relations and discourse. Although these challenges are sometimes seen as the purview of STEM fields alone, the humanities are crucial for articulating relevant responses and enabling respectful civic discourse.”

The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation endeavors to strengthen, promote, and, where necessary, defend the contributions of the humanities and the arts to human flourishing and to the well-being of diverse and democratic societies.


Humanities Faculty Fellows Announced

October 28, 2015

Center logo

The Center for the Humanities announces the award of its 2016-2017 Faculty Research Fellowships to four faculty members in support of their research:

Harriet Fertik (Classics, Humanities, and Italian Studies)
“Outside the Ideal Community: Spaces for Education and Politics in Greco-Roman Antiquity and W.E.B. Dubois” will use questions raised in The Souls of Black Folk to investigate the relationship between education and citizenship in antiquity.

Nicole Fox (Sociology)
“Rebuilding from the Ashes of a Traumatic Past: The Everyday Complexities of Memory and Reconciliation in the Lives of Rwandan Genocide Survivors” will chronicle how narratives of the Rwandan genocide are told and re-told almost two decades after the violence.

Eliga Gould (History)
“Crucible of Peace: 1783 and the Founding of the American Republic” will look at the tensions between the terms imposed by the treaty-makers and the wishes of the people whom the treaty purported to bind in one of the least-studied of the United States’ founding documents: The Treaty of Paris.

Subrena Smith (Philosophy)
“Developmental Systems Theory and Beyond” will be an interdisciplinary research project – drawing on philosophy, biology and psychology – that will evaluate the strengths and weaknesses of Developmental Systems Theory with a view toward expanding on its strengths and rectifying its weaknesses.

Funded by the Center for the Humanities‘ general endowment and the Ben and Zelma Dorson Endowment in the Humanities, the fellowships provide a semester-long opportunity for junior and tenured faculty to pursue humanities research with no teaching obligations. Awardees participate in the Faculty Fellows Lecture Series in the year following their fellowship.


New Book: Talking New Orleans Music

October 23, 2015

book cover

Professor of folklore and English Burt Feintuch has published a book of fascinating interviews with eleven celebrated New Orleans musicians and the city they call home. The book also features 65 photographs by Gary Samson.

In Talking New Orleans Music, Feintuch pursued a decades-long fascination with the music of New Orleans. Thinking about the devastation — not only material but also cultural — caused by the levees breaking in 2005, he began a series of conversations with master New Orleans musicians, talking about their lives, the cultural contexts of their music, their experiences during and after Katrina, and their city. Photographer Gary Samson joined him, adding a compelling visual dimension to the book.

Musicians included are Soul Queen Irma Thomas, Walter “Wolfman” Washington, Charmaine Neville, John Boutté, Dr. Michael White, Deacon John Moore, Cajun bandleader Bruce Daigrepont, Zion Harmonizer Brazella Briscoe, producer Scott Billington, as well as Christie Jourdain and Janine Waters of the Original Pinettes, New Orleans’s only all-woman brass band.

Feintuch, who also directs the UNH Center for the Humanities, has published on traditional music, cultural conservation, and other topics in traditional and vernacular culture.

Talking New Orleans Music: Crescent City Musicians Talk about Their Lives, Their Music, and Their City is available from the University Press of Mississippi and major booksellers.


Sidore Series: Personal Genomic Medicine

September 24, 2015

genome sequence on human bust

The Center for the Humanities is proud to announce the 2015-2016 Sidore Lecture Series: Personal Genomic Medicine.

With the success of the Human Genome Project and advances that permit individuals to have their genetic code determined, the era of personal genomics is upon us. Leading scholars representing multiple areas of human genome and microbiome research will outline and navigate the current state of knowledge. The series will explore how the genomic revolution will affect our lives, and will stimulate debate about the scientific, medical, ethical, legal, and societal implications of sequencing human genomes. Organizers of the series are Professor Kelley Thomas, Director of the Hubbard Center for Genome Studies and Professor Rick Cote, Chair of the Department of Molecular Cellular and Biomedical Sciences.

Lectures include:

Gut Feelings: How the Microbiome Influences Behavior

by Dr. Jane A. Foster, Brain-Body Institute, McMaster University
October 14, 2015
3:10-4:30 in MUB Theater I

Personalized Medicine: Using Integrative Omics to Analyze Complex Disease and Manage Health

by Dr. Michael Snyder, Director, Stanford Center for Genomics and Personal Medicine
December 7, 2015
3:10-4:30 in MUB Theater II

Implementing ‘Precision’ Medicine: Ethical Concerns in a Postgenomic World

by Dr. Barbara Koenig, Institute for Health and Aging, UCSF
February 10, 2016

The Dog Genome: Shedding Light on Human Diseases

Dr. Elaine Ostrander, Head of Comparative Genetics, NIH
March 9, 2016

The Invisible Influence of the Human Microbiome

Dr. Jack A. Gilbert, University of Chicago
April 13, 2016

Probing Human Ancestry with Ancient DNA

Dr. John Hawks, University of Wisconsin
April 27, 2016

Locations, times, and full information will be available at cola.unh.edu/center-humanities/sidore.

All lectures are free and open to the public.


New UNH Fellowships Available in the Humanities

July 29, 2015

The UNH Center for the Humanities has announced a new funding opportunity for UNH faculty: Fellowships in Publicly Engaged Humanities. Up to three fellowships of $5,000 each will be awarded for the 2015-2016 academic year. These awards will enable individual humanities scholars or teams of scholars to undertake collaborative projects, partnering with community or other public organizations, bringing humanities scholarship to bear in the context of advancing democracy, civic life, and the public good. The deadline for proposals is October 30, 2015.

The announcement can be read here.

For criteria, guidelines, deadlines, and more, please see this page.


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