In 2015 the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) issued a grant opportunity for programs addressing a significant humanities theme important to a particular community, region, or state as part of its Common Good initiative. The grant opportunity, Humanities in the Public Square, is designed to highlight the important role the humanities play in American daily life, drawing “on humanities scholarship to engage the public in understanding some of today’s most challenging issues and pressing concerns.” Eight state humanities councils received a total of more than $1.4 million to conduct programs addressing this theme. These councils are hosting more than 98 events across the country, working with more than 20 different community partners and reaching audiences ranging from teachers and students to families and children. Colleges, libraries, universities and other nonprofits are also impacted through these council programs. View the full list of NEH Humanities in the Public Square council recipients and their programs here.
Learn more about the Common Good: Humanities in the Public Square grant requirements.
The University of Maryland Arts and Humanities Center for Synergy has teamed up with Maryland Humanities to “lead a consortium of Baltimore institutions and organizations in a public examination of the roles of narrative, especially with respect to race, in the life and culture of Baltimore.” The program will engage audiences in high schools, libraries, and other city venues through 20 different events across the city, and at the end, will produce an educational website to help educators and the public in other cities investigate the roles of narratives and race.
In partnership with the University of Virginia and other community organizations across the Commonwealth, Virginia Foundation for the Humanities created a three-part program to encourage and lead a statewide conversation exploring the impact of immigration on Virginia. The program included a public forum at the Virginia Festival of the Book, and will include six book and film discussions, and the publication and distribution of a Teacher’s Guide on Latin American immigration for middle and high school classrooms.
Using the 150th Anniversary of the 14th Amendment as inspiration, the Maine Humanities Council created a program to “explore the history, evolution, and contemporary significance” of the Reconstruction-era amendment that addresses citizenship rights and equal protection of the law. In order to understand the many issues facing local communities and the country, the council is staging more than 10 events across the state to encourage public dialogue from a historical, legal and literary perspective.
In Louisiana, the council is partnering with the Louisiana Center for Law and Civic Education through their popular PRIME TIME program to deepen understanding of the meaning of democracy and citizenship in relation to the nation’s founding principles, values, politics and current circumstances. The program, titled “A More Perfect Union: Civic Education for American Families,” will take place in 20 different Louisiana sites and will also explore ways for teachers to integrate civic education into classroom lessons. Additionally, programs geared towards parents and their children will feature educational activities intended to enhance their understanding and interest in civic engagement through the exploration of books, web-based video, online primary source documents, and news stories.
Uniting eight partner organizations across Missouri, the Missouri Humanities Council will address the issue of cultural polarization in the state. The program kicks off with a symposium at the Missouri History Museum followed by public programs consisting of scholar-led discussions, documentary viewings, oral history projects, a traveling exhibit, among others in St. Louis, Kansas City and Columbia, Missouri.
The New York Council for the Humanities, through its Democratic Dialogue Project, will explore how the humanities can further understanding of what democratic citizenship means in the 21st century. The inaugural event will take place in New York City and will be followed by a series of Town Hall public programs in Albany, Buffalo, Rochester, Jamestown, and Poughkeepsie. Additionally, the council will offer complementary toolkits for their “Community Conversations” and “Reading and Discussion” programs for tax-exempt organizations in the state.
To help Oregonians think and talk with one another about the love for, loss of, and fight for place, home, and belonging, Oregon Humanities is initiating a comprehensive statewide project to explore the theme through 24 community discussions, a one-day training for scholar-facilitators and community partners, a one-day public symposium, a Think & Drink event, a conversation toolkit, three issues of Oregon Humanities’ nationally recognized magazine, and an associated short video.
Throughout 2016, Humanities Texas will host a series of events examining “pivotal U.S. presidential elections” to promote “understanding of our nation’s history, the responsibilities of democratic citizenship, and the relevance of the humanities in advancing the common good.” Be sure to check out the Humanities Texas website as highlights from the programs will be featured along with video-recorded lectures and instructional resources that align with the state’s educational curriculum.
View all council recipients of the NEH Humanities in the Public Square grants here.