[Harvard Programming]

Promise and Perils of the Public Humanities Pivot


Mariët Westermann
Executive Vice President
The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation

When: Wednesday, February 20, 2019 - 5:30pm

Where: Edison and Newman Room, Houghton Library


At a time when the humanities appear to be losing prestige—as measured by declining enrolments and skeptical views expressed by public officials, parents, and students—humanists and their institutions are seeking to manifest the worldly utility of the humanities to societies and individuals. These civic engagement activities are usually captured within the broad sphere of activity designated as the Public Humanities. The Public Humanities movement updates a long tradition of connecting academic knowledge to the communities in which institutions of higher education are located. Much of this work is exciting to faculty and students and of genuine benefit to the participating organizations and community members. This talk will describe some of the most promising current efforts to bring humanities research into wider worlds, and also ask what risks for the humanities may be attached to the enthusiasm with which universities are channeling their commitment to the humanities in the direction of immediate and evident public value.


Sponsored by the Mahindra Humanities Center, Houghton Library, and the Edmond J. Safra Center for Ethics.

Free and open to the public. Seating is limited.