Session Examples from the National Humanities Conference

The National Humanities Conference seeks sessions that knit together the perspectives of academic and public humanities practitioners and appeal to both audiences. Experiential humanities programs that engage conference attendees in actual humanities programming, modeled on successful programs carried out throughout the year, are also encouraged. Sessions that draw on the city or surrounding area and/or convey a sense of place are especially desired. See examples from the 2018 conference in New Orleans below. 

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Academics & Council Collaboration
Session Examples

EXAMPLE 1: Experiments in Audio

This session is designed for people interested in learning more about how to experiment with various audio formats (think podcasts, short- and long-form radio broadcasts and more). Participants will learn the benefits of experimenting with audio (primarily podcasts and radio broadcasts) as well as the myths, mistakes, and resources one needs before getting started.


  • Christiane Wisehart, assistant director of Digital and Academic Services, DePauw University, Prindle Institute for Ethics
  • Eric Lupfer, director of Grants and Education, Humanities Texas
  • Melissa Huber, director of Exhibitions and Public Programs, Humanities Texas
  • Moderator: Kristen Fuhs Wells, vice president, Indiana Humanities

EXAMPLE 2: Preschool Scholars?: Humanities and Early Childhood Education

Building a brighter future for the nation requires providing young children with a strong educational foundation. During this session, participants will consider the role of humanities organization, in supporting our nation’s youngest learners.


  • Thomas Wartenberg, senior research fellow in Philosophy, Mount Holyoke
  • Helen Taylor, interim assistant to the Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs, Louisiana State University in Shreveport
  • Stalanda Butcher, director, PRIME TIME Head Start
  • Moderator: Sarah DeBacher, vice president of Education, Louisiana Endowment for the Humanities

EXAMPLE 3: Spoonful of Sugar Helps Advocacy Go…

Can a spoonful of sugar help the advocacy go down? This panel brings together academic and public practitioners of the humanities to explore strategies for embedding humanities advocacy into public events and cultivating unlikely community champions to voice their support.


  • Leah Nahmias, director of Programs and Community Engagement, Indiana Humanities
  • Anne Wise, director, National Advocacy Initiative, Phi Beta Kappa
  • Adam Davis, executive director, Oregon Humanities

Experiential Sessions
Session Examples

EXAMPLE 1: Chew on This: Does Place-Making Create Better Cities?

This experiential session will model Indiana Humanities’ successful “Chew on This” program while inviting participants to explore the ideas of and tensions around place-making and place-keeping. The session will take participants out into New Orleans to see how these ideas play out in the host city and gives a chance to meet locals engaged in these same issues. Participants will share a meal, a drink, and a great conversation with other curious humanists at Antoine’s Restaurant, as expert facilitators guide discussion and orient attendees to the city. (offsite session)

Additional bike tour: After the session concludes continue the city tour on bike! A guide will lead a small group from the restaurant through the French Quarter for a 20-minute ride up to the Capps Lecture venue.

EXAMPLE 2: In the Light Bulb Room

This participatory session will employ excerpts from Ralph Ellison’s 1970 essay, “What American Would Be Like Without Blacks,” as the basis for a discussion about race and inclusion. Copies of the excerpts will be available during the session; however, it is encouraged that participants read the essay in advance.