News Category: Council Programs

Why Civics Matters: Who is Involved?

Civic engagement itself takes many forms across communities, and one of the most recognizable acts of civic engagement is voting. The right to vote has historically fallen along lines of identity. Take the Voting Rights Act of 1965, for instance, which prohibited discrimination in voting based on race—that’s only been in place for 56 years of our country’s history.

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01 Sep 2021

Schwartz Prize Insights: A Q&A with Two of Last Year’s Winners

Last year, our nation faced exceptional circumstances, and humanities councils responded in kind with an incredible array of programming. So for the first time, the Federation awarded the Schwartz Prize in two categories: one for outstanding public humanities programming and the other for innovative programming created specifically in response to the coronavirus pandemic. 

We asked winners from both categories to reflect on their experience. Christopher Kaufman Ilstrup is the executive director of Vermont Humanities, which won in the first category for their project, “Vermont Reads 2019: ‘March: Book One’ by Rep. John Lewis, Andrew Aydin, and Nate Powell.” And Eric Lupfer is the executive director of Humanities Texas, whose “Teacher Professional Development Programs” won in the second category.

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‘Chronic Catastrophe’: A New Podcast from California Humanities Emerging Journalist Fellows

“Journalism is more than just writing and reporting, journalism is so much more than that,” Camacho said. “I feel like a lot of people think journalism is a lot about just reporting the facts, and that’s about it—and it is that, but it’s also telling the stories of people who can’t use their voice.”  Read more here.

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Deadline Extended! The 2021 Call for Schwartz Prize Nominations

The Federation of State Humanities Councils is now accepting nominations for the 39th annual Helen and Martin Schwartz Prize, established by former Federation board member Martin Schwartz and his wife Helen to recognize outstanding work in the public humanities. The deadline to submit nominations is Monday, September 13, 2021. Questions? Email Sydney Boyd at

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“The Future of Journalism, the Fate of Democracy” with Virginia Humanities

“In Virginia alone, we lost 39 weekly newspapers between 2004 and 2020 and three dailies, a 27% decrease in news publications statewide,” said Matthew Gibson, executive director of Virginia Humanities, as he introduced the first of a two-part series of conversations on June 8 titled “The Future of Journalism, the Fate of Democracy.” A Virginia Humanities program, the series drew registrations from 45 different US states and territories and is part of the “Democracy and the Informed Citizen” initiative, administered by the Federation of State Humanities Councils and funded by The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.

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Rural Goings-on in Kentucky

The idea of rural America is always shifting, but it’s seen a dramatic change during the pandemic. In Kentucky, two Smithsonian Museum on Main Street traveling exhibits, “Voices and Votes: Democracy in America” and “Crossroads: Change in Rural America,” are currently touring, centering rural communities’ past, present, and future. Read more here in “Rural Goings-on in Kentucky.”

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Rural Rewards: An Economic Executive Director on the Strength of Small Towns

The idea of living in a rural town has changed during the pandemic, Long said, so that there’s a lot of competition for talent across urban and rural communities. “People have figured out that they can work from anywhere, and people can retire and move to just about anywhere they want to live,” Long said. “And so you really gotta be a community that people want to move to.” Read more here in Rural Rewards

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For Pride Month: Humanities Council Programs

For Pride Month, humanities councils join parades across the country with histories of change, LGBTQ ancestors, jazz, politics, literature, film, and stories past, present, and future. And people have noticed: among many, read stories about Vermont Humanities Council and Rhode Island Council for the Humanities programs that celebrate the contributions of trans and LGBTQ+ individuals and check out the list inside for additional programs.

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Caring Labor Sustains Life: Women’s Labor Activism in the Appalachian South

“These are men who worked for wages, and we associate them with the building of modern America. The coal miner in particular is an icon of the American working class. But what about domestic workers, farm laborers, or workers in the service industry? What about non-wage work?” said Dr. Jessica Wilkerson in a virtual West Virginia Humanities Council “Little Lecture” on May 30.

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Total Town Makeover with Missouri Humanities

“The size doesn’t matter, it’s the mindset,” Andrew McCrea said on January 21 in part one of “Total Town Makeover,” a Missouri Humanities two-part series drawing from McCrea’s book of the same name. Focused on rural economies, the series takes root in questions like, why does one small town thrive while another declines? What makes people want to live and work in one community but not another?

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Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month with the State and Jurisdictional Humanities Councils

What is decolonization? “Decolonization is not a metaphor…It’s more than a word. It’s a process, it’s a material shift,” explained Aiko Yamashiro, executive director of Hawai’i Council for the Humanities, in a Federation Wednesday Webinar on May 19—just one of many discussions focused on Asian American and Pacific Islander heritage that happened across humanities councils and their communities this year. Click here to access a webinar on decolonization featuring several of our council leaders, a sample of programs occurring in Hawai’i, Guahan, and the Northern Marianas, and an interview with Dr. Bill Tsutsui on the “monstrous imagination” of the Japanese as he discusses Godzilla and other Japanese monsters.

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