Tisch Program in Public Humanities

Tisch College has a Program in Public Humanities. As of today, the Program has its own webpage, which I invite you to visit.

The webpage introduces the Program’s director,  Diane O’Donoghue. An art historian, Diane first came to Tisch College as a Faculty Fellow in 2013—working on a Nazi-era restitution project in Vienna—after chairing the Department of Visual and Critical Studies at the School of the Museum of Fine Arts at Tufts.

The page also describes a major exhibition that celebrated a century of printing in Boston’s Chinese community. In addition to serving scholarly and cultural purposes, this exhibition drew attention to the need for a public library in Chinatown. In January 2017, Boston Mayor Martin Walsh announced that library services would be restored to the neighborhood.

On the same page, you can read about our current research on the Pao Arts Center in Chinatown, Diane’s spring course on “Public Amnesias and their Discontents,” and past and future presentations on the public humanities.

I have argued that the humanities and civic life have an intrinsic connection. “Humanist” was originally an informal term for someone who taught rhetoric, history and ethics to future public leaders–in contrast to philosophy and theology, which prepared clergymen. Citizens must make ethical judgments in concrete circumstances, and the humanities are disciplines that combine ethics, judgment, and concreteness with analytic and conceptual rigor. In recent decades, the professional humanities have had a somewhat distant or even fraught relationship with public life, but that is changing, thanks to the kinds of scholars, artists, and practitioners who congregate in Imagining America or in the North Eastern Public Humanities Consortium, of which Tisch College is a charter member.

From the perspective of Tisch College, Public Humanities is one component of Civic Studies, which also encompasses empirical research on civic engagement in the US and abroad, Civic Science, community-based participatory research, civic math, and other strands of research.

See also: what are the humanities? (basic points for non-humanists)the public purposes of the humanities (a brief history)the state humanities councils, connecting the public to scholarship; and “Rethinking the Humanities

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About Peter

Associate Dean for Research and the Lincoln Filene Professor of Citizenship and Public Affairs at Tufts University's Tisch College of Civic Life. Concerned about civic education, civic engagement, and democratic reform in the United States and elsewhere.