The Federation of State Humanities Councils and the National Humanities Alliance are excited to announce the 2022 National Humanities Conference, which will be held in Los Angeles, California, November 10-13, 2022. This annual conference brings together representatives from colleges, universities, state and jurisdictional humanities councils, cultural institutions, and other community-based organizations to explore approaches to deepening the public’s engagement with the humanities.

Los Angeles – home to 13.1 million people – is the second-largest metropolitan area in the country. Whether engineering space flight at the NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory, working in the movie and television industry, cooking up the latest culinary sensation in a fusion food truck, or playing at the beach, Angelenos are a study in the energy of motion. Ideas are on the move too, connecting history, culture, and innovation with the cool, cutting-edge vibe of the City of Angels. It’s not just Los Angeles that is paving the way to the future. The State of California is the fifth-largest economy in the world, a global leader in climate change policy and technology. All of this generates the excitement and friction of a Kinetic California.

Energy of Motion is a physics term that describes kinetic energy resulting from the movement of objects.  There are many forms of kinetic energy – vibrational, rotational, and translational, for example. Movement also often creates friction, the force that acts between moving surfaces. Kinetic energy in our social, economic, intellectual, and creative lives comes from positive experiences of “bouncing off” each other in casual interactions as well as the broader intersections between different groups and communities. Of course, it also arises from conflicts and contradictions – between the haves and have nots, the powerful and the powerless, those whose voices have been heard and those who are silenced – that generate the energy that drives social, cultural, and political change. As movement is everywhere, not just in California, we hope this conference will encourage you to think about the ways in which our world is in flux and how the ongoing changes and movements around us touch on and motivate our work. We invite proposals that reflect on the relationship of the public humanities to the following topics.

Movement of people – from the Indigenous people whose lands it remains, to Dust Bowl and great migrations to California to multiple waves of immigration and seasonal migrant labor, movements of people over centuries have created extraordinary cultural dynamism and interactions that produce interesting hybrid formations of all types. How can the public humanities respond as population movements of the present and future continue to reshape our world?

Movement of ideas – Los Angeles, Silicon Valley, and California as a whole offers an exceptionally fertile ground for creativity, thought, and imagination – visual, performing, and literary arts, as well as technological, humanities, and scientific advances. The movement of ideas is integrally connected to the movement of people. European refugees from Nazi Germany transformed Hollywood. Latin American and Asian American exiles and émigrés and their children have given the U.S. new literary figures such as Cathy Park Hong, Hector Tobar, and Viet Thanh Nguyen. The Afrofuturism of Octavia E. Butler was born in Southern California. What are some of the new movements of the realm of ideas today, and how are they taking shape in the public humanities?

Moving images – Hollywood and Los Angeles are inseparably entwined in the global imagination. The moving picture wasn’t invented in California, but it made its mark on LA and LA made its mark on the moving image. There has always been a symbiotic relationship between art and place, between art and technological innovation. How can we better understand the developments of this medium over time and how those changes are related to broader social currents, such as the #MeToo and #OscarsSoWhite protests?

Social movements – political and social movements (both progressive and regressive) have played a formative role in shaping the city and the state. How are these transformations related to wider changes in the contemporary national political landscape? How do the public humanities contribute to our understanding of the changes we see unfolding?

Movement of the earth – nothing is ever static, including the environment we humans live in. In California, earthquakes (kinetic energy release!) are always possible, and in recent years, fire has reshaped millions of acres. How have we (literally) moved mountains and water, and what have been the consequences? How should the humanities respond to the challenges posed by climate change?

Movement in the humanities – the humanities themselves are not static. What changes are occurring in the humanities at the present moment? Where are the innovations in public humanities work and scholarship emerging, and what does the future and purpose of public humanities programming look like?

After many months of being in stasis because of the global pandemic, we are all craving movement, travel, activity – and Los Angeles is the perfect place to experience this, to accelerate our connections and create greater humanities energy together. The 2022 National Humanities Conference in Los Angeles is an opportunity to envision how the humanities contribute to understanding movement and the energy that results, as well as how the humanities themselves generate kinetic energy that transforms individual and collective lives.

Deadline for submitting proposals: April 1st, 2022

We invite proposals for sessions that model and explore “energy of motion” in the public humanities. We also welcome proposals that share best practices of humanities organizations and examine ways to build organizational and field capacity, including:

  • Fundraising and development: how to cultivate support from private and public entities including grant writing, annual appeals, individual planned giving, and crowdfunding campaigns, as well as what new trends are emerging as philanthropic entities shift focus
  • Operationalizing Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) practices across nonprofit organizations, including programming, board recruitment, disaggregating data, and staff hiring and retention
  • Communication strategies: how to enhance digital capacity and offerings, build programmatic accessibility, and communicate through diverse media outlets to reach increasingly fragmented audiences
  • Advocacy and case-making: how to develop strategies at the local, state, and national levels
  • Audience cultivation: how to broaden (socio-economically, politically, geographically, etc.) audiences for public humanities work

We especially encourage the following formats:

Experiential humanities programs: These sessions engage conference attendees in actual humanities programming, modeled on successful programs carried throughout the year. Sessions (either on- or off-site) that draw on the resources of the city or the surrounding area and/or convey a sense of place are especially encouraged, as are sessions that bring together the humanities, arts, and STEM. These sessions should include time for participants to reflect on their experience and what they might bring back to their organization or institution.

Salons: The conference will include a time slot with a number of salons that draw on the theme of Energy of Motion. These lightly structured thematic conversations will enable conference participants to engage in small group discussions about a topic and interact in an informal way – bounce off each other, as it were – to generate ideas, understand shared challenges, and get to know each other outside of coffee breaks and formal sessions. Proposals will be accepted for discussion topics and a commitment from three to five hosts who will foster conversational engagement among people in the room.

Workshop: A hands-on session that teaches a particular skill set associated with program development, communications, collaboration, assessment, development/fundraising, cultivating new audiences, or any other aspect of humanities programming.

We also welcome more traditional forms of conference sessions:

Interview: These sessions feature a free-form dialogue between a humanities professional and an interviewer.

Roundtable: Roundtables consist of a group of humanities practitioners discussing a topic in front of an audience, rather than each presenting discrete remarks. A moderator leads the discussion and poses questions, but all participants speak equally about the topics. These sessions are limited to four discussants and one moderator.

Panel: This traditional format includes a moderator and no more than three presenters. Presentations are timed so that at least half the session consists of moderator questions and discussion with the audience.

Individual “flash” presentations: We invite proposals for individual flash presentations (five minutes) that relate to one of the energy of motion themes listed above. The program committee will curate lightning round sessions of four to five similarly-themed presentations.

Working groups: Working groups are seminar-like conversations of at least eight people that explore, in-depth, a subject of shared interest. Working groups will be accepted even if they do not have eight participants, but additional participants will need to be recruited after the session is accepted. The working group convenes for a session at the conference, but also converses before the conference and develops a product after. Each working group will have a facilitator, responsible for organizing the pre- and post-conference exchanges and facilitating the conversation at the conference itself. Working groups can open up for audience observers or confine participation to the members of the working group.

To submit a proposal:

Please submit a session, workshop, or working group proposals via the online form here.

Please submit a proposal for an individual flash presentation to be placed in a lightning talk via the online form here.

The deadline for proposal submission is April 1st, 2022. For questions regarding the online submission form, please contact

About the Federation of State Humanities Councils

Founded in 1977, the Federation of State Humanities Councils is the national member association of the U.S. state and jurisdictional humanities councils. The Federation’s purpose is to provide leadership, advocacy, and information to help members advance programs that engage millions of citizens across diverse populations in community and civic life.

About the councils

The state and jurisdictional humanities councils are independent nonprofit organizations supporting and creating grassroots humanities programs and community-based activities. Humanities councils were established by Congress in the early 1970s and receive an annual congressional appropriation through the National Endowment for the Humanities, which most councils supplement with state and private funding.

The National Humanities Alliance

The National Humanities Alliance (NHA) is a nationwide coalition of organizations advocating for the humanities on campuses, in communities, and on Capitol Hill. Founded in 1981, NHA is supported by over 200 member organizations, including: colleges, universities, libraries, museums, cultural organizations, state humanities councils, and scholarly, professional, and higher education associations. It is the only organization that brings together the US humanities community as a whole.