2017 Workshops and Sessions

Thursday, November 2, 2017


Thursday Workshops and Sessions

Pop-Up Humanities Lab

Evaluation 101

Collaborating One Community at a Time

Collaboration Gives Memory New Voice

Leading Challenging Conversations

Value of Visibility

Capital Campaigns

Conversations, Not Lectures

Pop-Up Humanities Lab – An Experiential Humanities Session
Thursday, 12:30 to 4:00 pm

Pop-up Humanities Lab: The Being Human Project In 2015 and 2016 the Applied Humanities Learning Lab, or AppHuLL, was created as an experimental and experiential course in order to make visible to Five College (Amherst, Hampshire, Mount Holyoke, Smith and the University of Massachusetts Amherst) undergraduates how to “bridge” their humanities education into careers in the profession. The program, part of an Andrew W. Mellon Foundation and Five Colleges Inc. supported Bridging Initiative in the Public and Applied Humanities, partnered with local humanities institutions and professionals to create a supported skills and project-based learning experience. Armed with project prompts and mentors, students embodied their role as public humanists, created innovative exhibitions, oral histories, programming guides, documentaries, advancement proposals, etc., and at the end of the three-month program transformed their projects into a theme based public exposition-style event in which to showcase their work. Here, for the 2017 National Humanities Conference, we propose to transform the Applied Humanities Learning Lab into the “Pop-up Humanities Lab” as an Experiential Humanities Program session. The Pop-up Humanities Lab will allow participants to experience major aspects of AppHuLL in an exciting and intense 3.5-hour session under the guidance of the course facilitators. Participants will be given an overview of the program, provided with course materials and learning exercises, and then divided into teams to complete “The Being Human Project” on the streets of Boston. At the end of the session participants will come back together and present their work to the conference “public.” The goal of The Being Human Project is to evoke our humanity in the most unlikely of places. In mentor-supported groups, participants will be provided with prompts and the necessary materials in which to answer this call. Examples might include creating a pop-up exhibit in the Boston Public Gardens about the city’s public water system, the environment, and displacement; using cell phones to collect micro oral histories from marginalized communities; designing temporary memorials about the past or the vanquished from the landscape with sidewalk chalk and participants bodies; creating interesting juxtapositions that somehow put the nearby Public Welfare Office, the Bank of American Financial Center, and the Boston Opera House in conversation in order to spark a dialog; canvassing the Boston Common armed with evocative questions about heritage and immigration; or simply shining a light on the places and ways in which the local neighborhood’s stressed or disconnected inhabitants can quickly connect or find refuge to support a happier and healthier community.

Attendee Max Count: 40

Speakers: Cheryl Harned, University of Massachusetts-Amherst; Mark Roblee, University of Massachusetts-Amherts

Evaluation 101
Thursday, 12:30 to 4:00 pm

Evaluation 101 How can you effectively measure a program’s success or reach? Do audiences or participants leave your programs with the desired outcomes? How do you determine what data you need to collect? These are just some of the questions that this pre-conference workshop sponsored by the NEH Office of Federal/State Partnership will address. Christina Citino, Senior Research Manager, Applied Research and Program Evaluation, UMass Donahue Institute, will
lead a skills-building session that provides participants with an understanding of how to develop a professional program evaluation plan. Christina has worked with Maine Humanities Council staff for the last few years and espouses that, “just because you can’t measure the ideal, doesn’t mean you can’t measure anything.” Christina, along with Lizz Sinclair, MHC’s Director of Programs, will use the work of the Maine Humanities Council to outline the evaluation process from developing a needs statement to data collection.

Speakers: Christina Citino, UMass Donahue Institute; Lizz Sinclair, Maine Humanities Council

Moderator: Leondra Burchall, NEH

Collaborating One Community at a Time
Thursday, 1:00 to 2:00 pm

This session will be a hands-on event that will ask participants to conduct a humanities/cultural inventory of their own communities in order to inform the larger discussion, which will ask the following questions: how can we systematically collaborate one community at a time to bring the humanities, arts and our unique cultures to the forefront, in order to engage all sectors of the community, promote a greater understanding of what makes each community unique,
excavate the historical and cultural treasures buried in our back yards, and promote economic development based on our heritage and culture within a statewide framework/ Goals will include a deeper understanding of the importance of heritage/cultural inventories, the importance of identification of non-traditional collaboration partners, better comprehension of local issues that might serve as impediments to a greater understanding of what makes each community culturally unique, and the realization that there are frameworks available to equip us as humanities practitioners to engage the widest possible audience to create lifelong learning opportunities in every community in every state. Each participant will bring a completed inventory, which will be provided in advance, as well as their own unique perspectives regarding the importance of engagement, as well as ideas regarding how to best implement the framework we will discuss for application across their states.

Speaker: Louis Riggs, 2500 Miles of Art and Culture

Collaboration Gives Memory New Voice
Thursday, 1:00 to 2:00 pm

Interpreting a little-known but highly significant period in US and Texas history, the exhibition “Life & Death on the Border 1910-1920” shared the historic context of life along the Texas-Mexico border prior to, during, and after the Mexican Revolution. This session will focus on the successful collaboration between local museum staff and scholars, addressing how building connections with communities affected by this historic violence expanded the museum’s traditional audience; how the combination of an onsite exhibition, efforts to physically memorialize these sites along the border, and a digital humanities project led to a richer interpretive experience; and, most importantly, why conversations about this period of history matter so deeply to contemporary discussions of social justice and social change.

Speakers: Monica Munoz Martinez, Brown University; Margaret Koch, Bullock Texas State History Museum; Nicole Sintetos, Brown University

Moderator: Kate Betz, Bullock Texas State History Museum

Leading Challenging Conversations – A Brief How-To
Thursday, 1:00 to 4:00 pm

This three-hour session will explore how to lead challenging community conversations using the tools of the humanities. Participants will experience a demonstration conversation and then take that conversation apart in order to identify best practices in planning and leading humanities-based conversations.

Speaker: Adam Davis, Oregon Humanities

The Value of Visibility
Thursday, 1:00 to 4:00 pm

The Humanities are an essential part of the fabric of our communities. But it is the deeply integrated nature of the Humanities that can too often make its work, and its impact, invisible. So how is the work of the Humanities made visible? This workshop centers on a series of core strategies for bringing intentionality to the way we share the work of the Humanities with our audiences, supporters, and funders. Now more than ever, visibility equals value. What we see, we cannot ignore. The workshop will include a brief presentation on the ways organizations are making their work visible in the public sphere; individual and group reflection; and the design of a collective action which immediately engages the questions put forward in the workshop. For the latter, participants will be asked to identify a core question circulating at the conference, to brainstorm ways of bringing visibility to that question among their peers, and ultimately, to design a simple but visible intervention that models the workshop’s methods. Jane Androski and Emily Rye first engaged the intersection of Design and Humanities, together, through a collaborative MFA thesis at the Rhode Island School of Design in 2011. In the years since, they have dedicated themselves to partnering with Humanities organizations across the country—including State Humanities Councils in Rhode Island, New York and New Jersey; a
2015 National Humanities Medal recipient in California; public libraries; and various arts and cultural organizations
throughout New England—to strengthen not only how these organizations share their work externally, but also how they articulate the value of their work internally. They have offered courses and workshops on the topic at universities throughout the Northeast, including Brown University, Clark University, the Rhode Island School of Design, and Framingham State University; at conferences such as Better World by Design and The Art of Business; and at institutions such as the Providence Athenaeum and the RISD Museum.

Speakers: Jane Androski, Design Agency and Emily Rye, Design Agency

Deepening Engagement through Capital Campaigns
Thursday, 2:30 to 4:00 pm

Public humanities organizations should be valued by the public they serve. A key way to deepen the relationship between state humanities councils and those who value its work is through capital support. Building a programmatic endowment, establishing a physical center, or creating a pool of working capital all are ways that nonprofits develop more sustainable sources of revenue. New Hampshire Humanities has completed two capital campaigns ($1.8M in the late 90s and $2.1M over the past 3 years). This workshop will offer guidance, tips, and lessons learned.

Speakers: Debbie Watrous, New Hampshire Humanities and Al Cantor, Alan Cantor Consulting

Conversations, Not Lectures
Thursday, 3:00 to 4:00 pm

In 2016, the Cambridge Historical Society (Cambridge, MA) outlined a new focus for its 111 year old organization. Instead of offering a random assortment of programs a year, we decided to choose one issue a year that Cambridge is facing today, and offer the historical perspective. By offering the “how we got here,” we know we will be helping our community better solve the question “now what do we do?” All of our activities—from public programs, to our fundraiser, to our print newsletter—would relate to the theme, and it would change each calendar year. We also decided that, instead of telling our members what the theme is, we would frame the year as a question. We wanted to close the gap between the “mighty/all-knowing” historical society and the average person, to be more approachable and democratic. We also wanted members of the community to help us answer the question together, to feel like they belong in the historical record that is being written today. Our 2016 theme was “Are We Home?” and explored a wide range of issues about housing from gentrification to tiny houses, and from the reuse of historical building materials to affordable housing. A major component of the year was conversation-style events with plenty of opportunity for feedback and discussion. We intended to slow down issues and inject thoughtful perspective-taking and empathy into the heated debates. The goal of our proposed session would be to highlight the importance and impact of inquiry-based history programs for adults that engage audiences and spark conversation. We will discuss what happens when you devote a year to a topic, when you frame that topic as a series of questions, how to identify what matters to your community, and how to find the questions to ask. Outcomes: Participants will hear about successes and lessons learned from an experimental year of themed programming of the Cambridge Historical Society. Through table discussions, participants will explore questions that relate to their communities, and brainstorm possible venues and methods for holding conversations. Participants will leave with an understanding of how to hold a conversation-based program in their community that achieves their pre-determined measurement of success.

Speakers: Marieke Van Damme, Cambridge Historical Society; Diana Lempel, Cambridge Historical Society; Lynn Waskelis, Cambridge Historical Society