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 2019 conference in Honolulu below. 

Click here to go back to the Call for Proposals.

Academics & Council Collaboration
Session Examples

EXAMPLE 1: Forging and Sustaining Relationships with Your Local, State, and Federal Government Officials

This session focused on how to work with your local, state, and federal government. NEH Director of Congressional Affairs Tim Robison will moderate a panel discussion on how different humanities organizations keep elected officials informed, invited, and involved in their work.


  • Ellen Jones, National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH)
  • Julie Fry, California Humanities
  • Katie Steen, Ohio Association of American Universities
  • Moderator: Ellen Jones, NEH

EXAMPLE 2: Professional Pathways in the Humanities

This session addressed both of these large framing topics as well as specific questions from the audience about professional pathways in the humanities. Presenters from various locations within the humanities workforce will give brief overviews of their current positions, offer advice, and describe how their roles fit into the professional humanities landscape nationally.


  • Monique Davis, Mississippi Museum of Art/CAPE project
  • Amy Ferrer, American Philosophical Association
  • Brian Boyles, Mass Humanities
  • Victoria Sams, NEH
  • Moderator: Rachel Arteaga, Simpson Center for the Humanities

EXAMPLE 3: Evaluating and Communicating Humanities Impact

In addition to considering what kinds of impact humanities organizations document – economic, geographic, educational, and more – this roundtable will address how we can best communicate the impact of the humanities to donors, advocates, civic and campus leaders, and other stakeholders at both the local and national levels.


  • Sarah DeBacher, Louisiana Endowment for the Humanities
  • Nicholas Allen, University of Georgia
  • Patricia Brooks, NEH
  • Moderator: Cecily Hill, NEH

Experiential Sessions
Session Examples

EXAMPLE 1: The “Ha!” in Humanities: Improv Theatre as Barrier Buster, Story Maker, and Bond Builder

Engaging with improvisational comedic theater methods, attendees in this participatory workshop will discover routes to invigorate their work in the humanities. From breaking the ice at a community meeting to pondering a story’s resonance, the extemporaneous art form will guide participants as they set out to strengthen communication prowess through lively exercising in listening, agreement, and employing the concept of “yes, and.”

EXAMPLE 2: Offsite Session – Returning to Our Roots

This experiential session “Returning to Our Roots: Cultivating Place and Community through to Power of Food” will take participants to the Ho’oulu ‘Āina Nature Preserve to explore how the “Returning to Our Roots” program in Kalihi Valley, O’ahu engages and supports residents – many of whom are immigrants from Asia and the Pacific Islands region – to create a sense of place and community through growing, preparing, and sharing food. Through an immersive garden tour, a workshop on local food, and a farm-to-table lunch and discussion, Humanities Guåhan and the Roots program will stimulate thinking on the important connections between food, health, culture, and the environment along with the ways in which these “grow” democracy in this community and beyond.

EXAMPLE 3: Humanities in the Wild: Hawaiian Edition

This session includes a guided tour of the Maunawila land trust, which preserves a sacred site for Native Hawaiians, learning both about its cultural significance and its ecology. We’ll consider the intersecting human and ecological histories of Hawai’i and what they can teach us about conservation and stewardship today. More detailed agenda coming soon.


  • Leah Nahmias, Indiana Humanities
  • Stacy Hoshino, Hawai’i Council for the Humanities
  • Jennifer Tonko, Minnesota Humanities Center
  • Samantha Dwyer, Humanities Montana