OVERVIEW: Rhode Island Pulitzer Prizes Centennial Campfires Activities

Presented by:
Rhode Island Council for the Humanities
Current Initiative: Centennial Campfires National Partner: The Pulitzer Prizes Local Partner: Colleges and Universities, Nonprofits, Other Subject: Journalism, Other Audience: All

The Rhode Island Council for the Humanities presented What is the 21st Century Essay?, a series of programs that explored the changing nature of journalism and the humanities in the digital age, to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the Pulitzer Prizes. The programming focused primarily on environmental issues due to, as the council stated on its website, “their urgency and relevance to our health, communities, and economy.”

PULITZER IN RI PODCAST

This seven-part podcast series featured journalists, scholars, practitioners, and Rhode Island community members who explored the intersections of journalism, the humanities, and the environment. Podcasts included commentary from Stephen Henderson of The Detroit Free Press, Sarah Schweitzer of The Boston Globe, and Margo Jefferson, a Pulitzer Prize-winning author, among others.

THE ESSAY IN PUBLIC CONFERENCE

A one-day exploration of approaches to long-form, humanities-rich journalism with keynotes by Sarah Schweitzer, Boston Globe reporter and 2015 Pulitzer Prize finalist for feature writing, and Stephen Henderson, Detroit Free Press reporters and 2014 Pulitzer Prize winner for Commentary. The conference took place at University of Rhode Island’s downtown Providence campus. There were 70 attendees at the conference.

THE OCEAN STATE WRITER’S CONFERENCE

Hosted at the University of Rhode Island, the conference featured Margo Jefferson. The conference continues the tradition of offering all writers the opportunity to enjoy a weekend of lively interaction with professional writers. About 150 citizens, students, and faculty members attended the conference. Learn more here.

SILVERED: TRACING GORHAM AT MASHAPAUG POND

Part of a series of short films celebrating the ecology, history, and culture of Mashapaug Pond, Silvered is a multimedia experience by Erik Carlson and Erik Gould shown at J.T. Owens Park on the UPP arts! floating sculpture screen. about 70 people attended the performance.

WRITING NATURE WITH AKIKO BUSCH

Akiko Busch, author of The Incidental Seward, discussed the way that essay form promotes a kind of collaborative thinking, accommodating both sciences and humanities at a Providence Athenaeum Salon. Mining the works of groundbreaking naturalists for their ruminations on the relationship of science, literature, and human emotion, she looks for evidence of how the practice of citizen science, as it is practiced by naturalists today, generates a new manner of observation and documentation. Over 100 people came to discuss Busch’s work.

OF NATURE COMPOSED, A SIGNATURE AUREA PREMIERE

This signature Aurea Ensemble premiere explores the intersection of nature, science, the arts and humanities in celebration of the Pulitzer Prize centennial and the sanctity of the environment. Of Nature Composed includes the music of 2014 Pulitzer Prize winner, John Luther Adams; American Modernist, Charles Ives, and Renaissance composer, Johannes Ockeghem; with words of the American contemporary Pulitzer Prize winning poets, Galway Kinnell and Mary Oliver; and naturalists, Henry David Thoreau and John Muir. More than 200 people attended this event.

STORY IN THE PUBLIC SQUARE WITH DAN FAGIN

The Pulitzer What is the 21st Century Essay? edition of “Story in the Public Square” featured 2014 Pulitzer winning science and environmental journalist and NYU professor Dan Fagin. He and co-hosts Jim Ludes, executive director of the Pell Center for International Relations and Public Policy at Salve Regina University, and G. Wayne Miller, reporter at the Providence Journal, discussed the role of journalism in the 21st century and the need to develop stories that engage with audiences – readers, listeners, tweeters – as citizens. The program was aired on RI’s PBS radio and nationally on Sirius XM’s P.O.T.U.S. station.

WHAT IS THE 21ST CENTURY ESSAY? BLOGS, PODCASTS, & ESSAYS

The council engaged humanities scholar Jane Gerhard, PhD, as the documentarian to attend all events and write a series of blog posts. Gerhard also wrote an essay specially designed for the Council’s 2016 Annual Report that integrated the themes and conversations arising at each event with an overall exploration of the 21st Century Essay. In addition, the Council produced podcast interviews with key participants of each program that also featured the Council’s Executive Director Elizabeth Francis. The humanities blog posts and podcasts are uploaded on the Council’s website.  The combined reach of the blog posts, podcasts, and scholar essay is 1,500+.

MAJOR PARTNERSHIPS:

  • Pell Center at Salve Regina University
  • Essay in Public
  • Aurea Ensemble
  • Providence Athenaeum
  • Upp Arts

PULITZER PRIZE PARTICIPANTS:

  • Stephen Henderson, Commentary (2014)
  • Margo Jefferson, Criticism (1995)
  • Dan Fagin, General Non-Fiction (2014)

PROGRAM & EVENT LOCATIONS:

  • Providence, RI
  • Kingston, RI

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