2017 Working Groups

Working Groups

Working groups offer conference participants the opportunity to more deeply explore an area of shared interest and involve both pre- and post- conference participation by group members, as well as time at the conference to meet to advance their project. All working groups, with the exception of Radical Pedagogies/Radical Messages, take place on Saturday, Nov. 4 from 9:30 am to 11:00 am. Radical Pedagogies is later, from 11:15 am to 12:30 pm.

Click the below tabs to view each of the eight different working groups offered at this year’s conference.

Councils & Centers for the Book Collaborations

Dismantling the Legacy of Race

New England Islamic Art Network

Public History & Mass Incarceration

Using Media to Develop Humanities Narratives

Humanities Graduate Education

Considering Arts/Humanities Partnerships

Humanities in Action

Radical Pedagogies/Radical Messages

Councils & Centers for the Book Collaborations

This working group will bring together communications and program directors from councils and State Centers for the Book to address questions of building strategic communications approaches that enhance the value of both Center and council efforts. Perspectives from councils currently hosting their state Centers for the Book will be included and participation from Centers looking to build new partnerships is also welcomed. As funding for both types of organizations comes under fire, it is essential that we find innovative ways of working together and clarifying our messaging – communicating the direct access to literacy programs and civic dialogues enabled through these partnerships. Staff from the Rhode Island Council for the Humanities, Connecticut Humanities, Virginia Foundation for the Humanities, Maine Humanities, and Maryland Humanities will offer unique solutions to making the most of the statewide reach of Centers to enhance the impact of council work. Coming out of this session, the participating councils and Centers will continue working together to build successful models for partnership and sharing strategic communications tools.

Participants: Rachel Jeffers, Rhode Island Council for the Humanities; Lizz Sinclair, Maine Humanities Council/Harriet P. Center for the Book; Andrea Lewis, Maryland Humanities; Jane Kudlow, Virginia Foundation for the Humanities/Virginia Center for the Book

Moderator: Lisa Comstock, Connecticut Humanities/Connecticut Center for the Book

Dismantling the Legacy of Race

In fall 2016, former NEH Chairman William Adams launched “Humanities and the Legacy of Race and Ethnicity” – a special grant award for state humanities councils to address the pervasive social, economic, cultural, and racial issues that have long divided American communities. the grant-funded work state councils and their partners have completed for this initiative is now almost complete, and the questions remains – what next? How can councils, their partners, and constituents strengthen and continue to build their work on the perennially divisive subjects of race and ethnicity?

This session will allow for lightning round-style presentations by 5 or 6 councils and their partners for various constituencies. NEH will invite all councils to submit proposals to present during the lightning round session. Councils are encouraged to include program participant voices (in-person or remotely via Skype/Google Hangout) in their presentations where possible. Following the presentations, the group, led by participants from the 2016 NHC working group, “Challenging the Exclusive Past,” will discuss the successes and challenges and the highs and lows of developing programs that address the themes of the Legacy and Race initiative, transferable models for wider implementation, and will discuss next steps, including brainstorming possible methods of funding to spread programming to a wider audience.

Participants: Leondra Burchall, NEH

“Challenging the Exclusive Past” Speakers: Andrea Copeland, Indiana University; Banu Valladares, North Carolina Humanities Council; Jason Allen, New Jersey Council for the Humanities; Kirk MacKinnon Morrow, Minnesota Humanities Council

Moderator: Meg McReynolds, NEH

New England Islamic Art Network

The field of Islamic art history can and should play an important role in creating a productive and tolerant public dialogue in America around Islamic culture and Muslim peoples. However, professionals working with Islamic art frequently work in isolation, meeting only occasionally at conferences focused primarily on scholarly topics, and lack the support of a peer network. The goal of the session is to bring together museum and cultural heritage professionals, students, academics and artists who are based in New England to create a cross-disciplinary network to share good practices for the presentation of Islamic art in academia, museums, libraries, community centers and other spaces. The working group format is key to the success of this group. This format provides an opportunity for both in-depth conversation at the NHA conference, as well as continuous support before and after the conference for members as
they take on new initiatives and work to implement new ideas. Finally, by limiting the group to the New England area, the working group will be able to focus on creating opportunities for in-person coordination and collaboration. The session will address questions such as: what are members’ strategies for the presentation of Islamic art at a politically sensitive time; where have they encountered success in creating healthy dialogue; what plans or projects are they interested in taking on which might be strengthened through collaboration; what kinds of support might they be able to provide to or would they like from their peers.

Participants: Maryam Eskandari, MIIM Designs; Pamela Karimi, UMass Dartmouth

Moderator: Laura Weinstein, Museum of Fine Arts-Boston

Public History & Mass Incarceration: Humanities Action Lab

How do we need to approach humanities-based, national civic dialogue in the Trump era? The answer depends on the different ways we diagnose problems – and identify possibilities – in each of our local communities. How can the public humanities foster dialogue and action within and between local communities on issues of shared national concern?

This panel discussion will feature members of the Humanities Action Lab (HAL), a consortium of 20 universities collaborating to produce student- and community- created public humanities projects on pressing social issues. HAL’s first project, States of Incarceration: A National Dialogue of Local Histories, focused on the past, present, and future of incarceration. Students in each participating city collaborated with others directly impacted by mass incarceration to explore local histories and perspectives, and curate them into a “chapter” of a common national exhibit and web platform. The exhibit opened at The New School in New York City in April 2016 and is now traveling to all 19 other communities that created it, with dialogue programs held in each local community the exhibit visits.

HAL hoped to open space to generate and exchange unique locally-grounded approaches to common national questions, so that communities could learn from each others’ historical experience and their creative strategies for confronting its contemporary legacies.

In this session, panelists will reflect on the diversity of their narratives and experience as well as lessons learned for how and to what end to activate the public humanities in the context of social conflict and division. Panelists include: Kevin Murphy, University of Minnesota, whose team traced the roots of mass incarceration in settler colonialism and links between the internment of Dakota in the 19th century and high rates of incarceration in Indian County today; Mary Rizzo, Rutgers University-Newark, and Leah Serat, Arizona State University, whose students explored the rise of immigration incarceration from Ellis Island to the Eloy Detention Center and strategies for resistance; Marty Blatt, Northeastern University, whose team profiled the Norfolk Prison Debating Society, which Malcolm X was part of, and the questions it raises about the purpose of prisons; Andy Urban, Rutgers University-New Brunswick, whose students explored a work release program for people formerly held in Japanese internment camps at Seabrook farms, a New Jersey agribusiness; and Robin Kirk, Duke University, who was blocked from accessing historical records while leading her students in an exploration of the death penalty in North Carolina.

Panelists: Kevin Murphy, University of Minnesota; Mary Rizzo, Rutgers University-Newark; Leah Serat, Arizona State University; Marty Blatt, Northeastern University; Andy Urban, Rutgers University-New Brunswick; Robin Kirk, Duke University

Moderator: Liz Sevcenko, Humanities Action Lab

Using Media to Develop Humanities Narratives

A question at the heart of the battle over both national funding for the humanities and state-allocated funding for humanities in higher education is the extent to which these programs provide an appreciable return on investment. In other words, what lasting value to they provide the general public? Humanities professionals are charged with communicating this value effectively to a broad public, comprised of individuals who may not be familiar with the multiple ways that the humanities impact their lives, yet who have power over the future of humanities programs as voters, donors, and legislators.

This working group will discuss the increasing need to create and disseminate clear and compelling narratives that affirm the public benefits of humanities programs, especially those originating from colleges and universities, and explore options for addressing this need through new media. This working group will gather contributions from public humanists who have been working to produce and disseminate such narratives and will brainstorm ways in which a collaboration between institutions can pool media production and promotional resources in order to create a strategic campaign that both represents the important work being conducted by humanities professionals and captures the public audiences capable of influencing change in humanities funding. The questions this working group will address, include: 1) What practical resources do universities and other humanities entities need to create compelling narratives about their programs and what can universities and public humanists do to animate students and people outside the academy to advocate for the humanities? 2) What stories should humanities professionals, as well as university administrators, faculty, students, and participants in public humanities programs be telling about these programs and how should those stories be told? 3) What audiences do these stories need to reach and how can advocates for the humanities reach them?

This working group will bring humanities professionals together to produce an initial blueprint of effective narratives, uses of media, and promotional strategies that universities and humanities programs can both draw from and build on to affirm the public good that the humanities serves.

Participants: Jesse Moss, NEH; Theresa Donofrio, Coe College; Aaron Fai, Center for the Humanities, University of Wisconsin-Madison; Robert Frodeman, University of North Texas; Trey Mitchell, Virginia Foundation for the Humanities; Angela Speakman, New Jersey Council for the Humanities; Kate Viens, Massachusetts Historical Society; Joseph Pettican, Routledge, Taylor & Francis Group; Katherine Burton, Routledge, Taylor & Francis Group

Moderators: Clare Callahan, Humanities Institute, College of Liberal Arts, University of Texas; Victoria Davis, Humanities Media Project, College of Liberal Arts, University of Texas

Humanities Graduate Education: Academic and Public Humanities

The Humanities Graduate Programs and Collaborations across the Academic and Public Humanities Working Group first met at the 2016 National Humanities Conference to share collaborations among humanities graduate and post-doctoral programs and humanities councils, cultural institutions, civic organizations, and nonprofit, business, and technology sectors.

Speakers described institutes and certificates focused on publicly engaged teaching, learning, and careers; digital humanities projects; internships; and post-doctoral fellowships in which PhDs translate research skills and knowledge into cultural sectors beyond the classroom. Using these case studies, small groups of faculty members, public humanities experts, and foundation program officers asked What? Why? What Next? and What it?

In 2017, new speakers will explain how their programs work and what lessons they’ve learned about collaboration. Small facilitated groups will reflect on adapting speakers’ strategies to local practices, exchange experiments, and frame questions and recommendations for future collaborations and careers rooted in academic and public humanities collaborations. We’ll conclude by gathering an synthesizing these reflections on our website in preparation for 2018.

Participants: Maria Wisdom, Versatile Humanists, Duke University; Mona Frederick, Vanderbilt University, Robert Penn Warren Center for the Humanities; Teresa Mangum, Obermann Center for Advanced Studies, University of Iowa; Ann Ardis, University of Delaware, Interdisciplinary Humanities Research Center; Paula Krebs, Modern Language Association; Andrew T. Mink, National Humanities Center

Considering Arts/Humanities Partnerships

There is so much overlap between the arts and the humanities that humanities council staff spend a good deal of time explaining the distinction between these two fields for the purposes of partnerships, grant proposals, and other council-based programs. And yet, there is also great benefit to bringing the two areas together for rich, meaningful, and nuanced programming.

This working group proposes a deep dive into the key questions humanities professionals should contemplate when partnering with arts organizations or supporting arts-based programs. For example: 1) if we spend so much time defining the humanities – often in contrast to the arts – does arts/humanities programming muddy the definitions we work so hard to clarify? 2) The arts get as much funding from NEA as we do from the NEH, plus usually more state money. Arts organizations are also often much bigger players in private philanthropy. Why do we allocate our limited resources to working with them? 3) What benefits do we gain as humanities organizations to working with arts organizations in terms of expanding our audiences? Would different partnerships (for example, with social service organizations) offer greater diversity in terms of audience outreach? 4) What are the main questions we need to consider when weighing the opportunities presented by arts partnerships? What do we give us in these circumstances? 5) What can we learn from arts organizations about audience building, development, advocacy, and demonstrating the impact of our work? 6) How can differences in approach between arts and humanities organizations complement each other to create great programs? In what ways to they compete?

The working group will explore these preliminary questions prior to the conference to refine the discussion questions for the conference. The working group coordinators will be responsible for creating a reading list to help in consideration of questions and all working group participants will create written responses to the preliminary questions in advance. The working group seeks to create a document that will begin to establish best practices for humanities organizations to reconsider their existing arts/humanities programs or to assist them in creating programs and partnerships in the future.

Participants: Allison Hutton, Georgia Humanities Council; Thomas Bryant, Alabama Humanities Foundation; Angel Ysaguirre, Illinois Humanities; Jodi Graham, Utah Humanities; Josephine Jones, Colorado Humanities/Center for the Book; Jann Mylet, Alaska Humanities Forum; Anne Schlitt, Maine Humanities Council

Moderator: Gigi Naglak, New Jersey Council for the Humanities

Humanities in Action: Academic Research and Public Dialogue

Humanities in Action Working Group will explore practical and conceptual matters connected with linking academic research in the humanities with public programming and engagement efforts outside the academy. The group believes in strengthening the bridges between academic humanities research and public humanities work; these are two crucial arenas of humanistic engagement that serve the nation best when working in concert.

The workshop is intended to build upon work underway in New England to bridge “research and practice” and to work together, with attendees, to identify further steps and activities. The that end, the group has gathered a range of professionals with different “hats” who share similar goals: Robert Boatright, National Institute for Civil Discourse, will speak on collaboration between NICD and universities; Clarissa Ceglio, UConn Digital Media and Design, will speak on the “Museums and Civic Discourse Project;” Matthew Farley, New England Campus Compact, will speak on NECC and its public education programs; Janna Israel, Wadsworth Atheneum, will discuss museum programming and new partnership with UConn Humanities; Brenda Miller, Hartford Public Library, will address HPL’s ongoing program and links to UConn; Nancy Parent, UConn/Service Learning, will discuss the “Avery Point Global Cafe” local partnership; John Sarrouf, Essential Partners, will discuss a new project linking higher education and dialogue work; Tom Scheinfeldt, UConn/Digital Media and Design, will discuss “Greenhouse Studios,” a new initiative for accessible scholarly publication; Manuela Wagner, UConn/German, will discuss developing Intercultural Competency in high schools; Dana Miranda, UConn/Philosophy and Humanities Institute, and Brendan Kane, UConn History and Humanities Institute, will speak on UConn’s new public humanities initiatives, its grant “Humility and Conviction in Public Life,” and efforts to connect humanities research with community dialogue in partnership with people an institutions listed above.

The conversation will be moderated by Aimee Loiselle, UConn/History, who brings experience in public humanities work and engaged pedagogy. The intention is that the “working group” will allow opportunity for further collaboration in matching “research and practice” for the public good.

Participants: Clarissa Ceglio, UConn; Brendan Kane, UConn; Matthew Farley, Connecticut Campus Compact; Robert Boatright, National Institute for Civil Discourse, University of Arizona; Janna Israel, Wadsworth Atheneum; Nancy Parent, UConn; Brenda Miller, Hartford Public Library

Radical Pedagogies/Radical Messages: Possibilities of University-Community Partnership

PLEASE NOTE: This working group takes place on Saturday, Nov. 4 from 11:15 to 12:30, a different time from the others

This working group investigates spaces of political resistance and radical historical narration that can be produced by university-community collaborations. As universities embrace publicly-engaged scholarship and community organizations look to address critical social issues in a time of shrinking state support, these collaborations have become increasingly important ways for both entities to address issues of contemporary social importance through humanistic methods. Because of the nature of the nature of these entities, such projects tend toward a small scale, rarely have the staffing or financing to be sustained, and often find limited audiences. Comprised of university-based academics, public libraries, advocacy organizations, and humanities-based organizations, this working group aims to self-reflexively sketch out the potentials and limitations of university-community collaborations with radical political agendas.

As universities come under greater political scrutiny, does the longstanding commitment to academic freedom actually ensure that faculty, staff, and students have the ability to be publicly critical? How do realities of staffing, funding, and politics limit the autonomy and political agency of small cultural and community organizations? Ultimately, how radical can we be?

We also consider several related issues: How can we better ensure reciprocal benefits for all involved? What is the “community” in these partnerships? How do we assess impact? How can we promote the endurance of such collaborations and the messages they hope to communicate?

The conversation is guided by at least four case studies. The Queer Network Oral History Project is a community-driven project to document the LGBTQ history of New Jersey’s largest city. The NYU-based course (Dis)Placed Urban Histories partners undergraduates with a community-based organizations, Women’s Housing and Economic Development Corporation (WHEDco) in the South Bronx to document residents’ reactions to neighborhood change in the wake of rampant rezonings and gentrification pressure. The exhibit “From Rebellion to Review Board: Newark Fights for Police Accountability,” done through a Rutgers University-Newark and the Newark Public Library partnership, historically contextualized the creation of a civilian compliant review board in 2016. Finally, Buscada’s Layered SPURA project brought New School students into coalition with housing advocates to create five community-based exhibitions on the contested past and future of the Seward Park Urban Renewal Area (SPURA) on Manhattan’s Lower East Side.

We will produce a preliminary best practices guide about university-community collaborations on contemporary social issues. We envision publicizing the guide and soliciting feedback through blog posts including on the National Council on Public History’s History@Work, Next City, and Public Seminar.

Participants: Molly Garfinkel, City Lore/Place Matters; Gabrielle Bendiner-Viani, Buscada & The International Center of Photography; Heidi Cramer, Newark Public Library; Dipti Desai, NYU; Denise Meringolo, University of Maryland; Emad Mirmotahari, Duquesne University; Rebecca Amato, New York University

Moderator: Mary Rizzo, Rutgers University-Newark