Humanities for everyone.
That’s the simple, yet impactful vision of UNCG’s new Humanities Network and Consortium (HNAC), launched by faculty in humanities disciplines such as English, history and religious studies.
“We believe that everyone deserves a broad education in which the humanities are central,” said Dr. Lisa Levenstein, associate professor of history and director of HNAC.
HNAC is working to provide faculty development, student support and public engagement opportunities to bring the humanities to everyone – from UNCG students to the Greensboro community and beyond.
According to Levenstein, the humanities are important because they help us understand what it means to be human, foster an active and engaged citizenry, and teach the necessary skills – such as critical thinking and research skills – for the 21st century workforce.
Levenstein and her colleagues began exploring the idea of a humanities network last fall.
“It was clear that there was a great hunger among faculty for an institution like this on campus,” she said.
Since its launch in September, the network has organized new writing and reading groups for faculty collaboration. HNAC is also working to identify more opportunities for faculty to engage with the Greensboro community. This fall, the network has identified two Distinguished Spartan Scholars – professors Sheryl Oring and Chuck Bolton – who will be sharing their work with the public in different ways.
“There is a great faculty here. We want to create a closer connection between the community and humanities scholars at UNCG,” said Dr. Jen Feather, associate professor of English and assistant director of HNAC.
In addition to providing these kinds of engagement opportunities, HNAC will host several events over the course of the year for students and the greater Greensboro community.
In December, the group will co-host a public discussion on mass incarceration with historian and author Heather Ann Thompson, whose book “Blood in the Water: The Attica Prison and Uprising of 1971 and Its Legacy” was a 2016 National Book Award finalist.
Next semester, HNAC will inaugurate “The Liberal Arts Advantage,” a one-day professional development event for students in the College of Arts & Sciences who are preparing to enter the workforce. The event is designed to teach students how to articulate the value of their humanities education and translate their critical thinking, writing and research skills into a career.
“We can’t imagine what the workplace is going to look like in 25 years,” Levenstein said. “It’s not practical to train students for a specific job that could disappear in a decade. A broad education in the humanities helps develop in students the kinds of skills that translate to a variety of jobs.”
For Levenstein and Feather, it’s clear that in an ever-changing world of technology and scientific discovery, the humanities continue to play a significant role in shaping society. And at UNCG, the humanities are shining bright.
“We believe that the humanities are one of UNCG’s crown jewels,” Levenstein said. “We want everyone to recognize why the humanities are so important and relevant today.”
Story by Alyssa Bedrosian, University Communications
Photography by Martin W. Kane, University Communications