Created by an NEH Challenge grant in 1983, the Humanities Institute in the College of Arts & Sciences is an endowed initiative established to ensure that the humanities will flourish at the heart of a Fairfield University education. Since its inception, the endowment has funded hundreds of lectures, events, film series, workshops, and seminars, as well as most of our successful curricular and engagement initiatives. Over the past 30 years, the Humanities Institute has been one of the most significant sources of educational innovation and change at Fairfield University.
Moving forward in the 21st Century, the Humanities Institute continues to lead the way in catalyzing humanistic inquiry and dialogue across disciplines to inspire, guide, and respond to transformations in our lives and our societies, contributing to imagining and creating a more just, humane and sustainable future for humankind. The Institute revitalizes the University, placing our traditional strengths at the center of our strategic priorities and ensuring that our students are not only technically equipped to analyze, innovate, and address real problems in professional contexts, but intellectually and ethically capable of doing so in ways that fulfill our educational pledge and deliver on Jesuit education’s promise.
The Humanities Institute aims to:
Director: Dr. Nels Pearson
The humanities exist at an exciting juncture of traditional and evolving disciplinary and interdisciplinary perspectives. More than ever, our world requires global citizens who can think historically, critically, culturally, and creatively. Its present and future depend on leaders and problem solvers who can transcend formulaic approaches, recognize the human dimension, synthesize multiple categories of knowledge, and articulate nuanced ideas to multiple audiences. The humanities are thus more relevant, and more instrumental in the professional and public lives of college graduates, than ever before. If you would like to hear more about the growing impact of the humanities on contemporary social and professional life, I encourage you to watch this video.
Here at Fairfield, the Humanities Institute has undergone its own renaissance: founded in 1984 with the aid of an NEH challenge grant, then revitalized as a freestanding and multifunctional Institute in 2014, under the directorship of Dr. Ronald Davidson, we now enter a growth phase in which our aim is to broaden the impact of our programming, support, and outreach.
It is an honor to lead the Humanities Institute in its mission to promote the Humanities as the nexus of intellectual livelihood at Fairfield University. Among our recent highlights is an expanded Humanities Institute Seminar, directed by Dr. Patricia Behre, which now welcomes six faculty fellows for 2017-18: Dr. Jennifer Adair, Dr. Gwendoline M. Alphonso, Dr. Cecelia Bucki, Dr. Sara E. Díaz, Dr. Johanna X. K. Garvey, and Dr. Katherine A. Schwab. Fellows receive reassigned teaching time to work on innovative research projects and support one another’s progress while also mentoring our eight student fellows, advising them in original research. The interdisciplinary seminar format provides valuable interactions between faculty scholars while also offering some of our top humanities students the kind of tutorial-based, one-on-one experience that will prepare them for graduate school or other intensive intellectual environments outside of Fairfield.
The program grants committee, now directed by Dr. Jerelyn Johnson, will look to continue and enhance its exemplary work in assessing and funding faculty projects. Recently funded projects range from restoration of ancient Greek art to representations of China in Italian film, and from mapping Irish emigration in Rhode Island to guiding veterans in the writing and performance of their remarkable stories. Each of the program grants has been successful in infusing the dynamic energy of the humanities into the fabric of the University̦.
One of the Humanities Institute’s core concerns, the Digital Humanities Working Group spearheaded by Dr. Sally O’Driscoll and Dr. Gita Rajan, is now a permanent part of the Institute, and will continue working with the DiMenna-Nyselius Library to enhance its web-based hub for the promotion and dissemination of student and faculty digital projects. Other planned initiatives of the Humanities institute include exciting new public humanities programming and outreach, as well as the new course HU 201, “Technical Skills for Liberal Arts Majors,” which will train humanities students in the specific software skills that surveyed employers say will make them competitive after graduation.
We will also continue to explore the possibilities arising from the recent formation of the School of the Humanities, including the ways in which the two entities in the College of Arts and Sciences will work collaboratively to promote teaching, scholarship, and initiatives in the Humanities.
We hope you will join us in the various events we are planning and connect with the remarkable faculty and students of this University as they ask difficult questions of themselves and their peers, seeking answers that challenge entrenched positions while also expressing intellectual generosity and empathy with others, whether in agreement or difference of opinion.
Nels Pearson, Ph.D.
Professor of English
Director, The Humanities Institute in the College of Arts and Sciences
The Humanities Institute supports and promotes all aspects of humanistic inquiry and performance, as expressed in the scholarship, initiatives and organizations of the faculty and students of Fairfield University, whether on campus or in the wider community. In the Jesuit spirit of cura personalis, and through the employment of both traditional and digital media, the Humanities Institute advances interdisciplinary dialogue and exchange by assisting teaching and supporting research across the humanities and related disciplines. To this end, it seeks to create a hub of international humanistic discourse, with an emphasis on student-faculty mentorship.
Dr. Sergio Adrada-Rafael – Modern Languages
Dr. Matt Coleman – Natural Sciences / Math
Dr. Ryan Drake – Philosophy
Dr. David McFadden – History
Dr. Laura Nash – Visual and Performing Arts
Dr. Sally O’Driscoll – English
Dr. Sallyanne Ryan – Communication
Dr. John Slotemaker – Religious Studies
Digital Humanities Working Group
The Digital Humanities Working Group is an ad hoc committee of the Humanities Institute. It’s work has been supported by both the Humanities Institute and the DiMenna-Nyselius Library. For more information, please see the Digital Humanities Hub.
HI Program Grants are for projects that enhance the educational experience of students and/or faculty development through programs or research in the humanities (history, philosophy, religion, language, linguistics, literature, archaeology, jurisprudence, and ethics, as well as the history, theory and criticism of the arts). Proposals in the social sciences, mathematics, and the natural sciences that intersect substantively with humanities methodologies and disciplines will also be considered. All applications will be evaluated based on their potential contribution to teaching and research in the Humanities. Applications may be submitted by any CAS faculty member. (Further guidelines available on the downloadable Call for Proposals).
Our next date for awards is August 1, 2018 for early fall events and October 15, 2018.
Beginning Spring of 2017, the Humanities Institute is accepting abbreviated applications for its new Quick Grants program. Grants will be reviewed on September 1, November 1, December 1, January 1, March 1, April 1 and May 1.
Summer, Fall and Spring grant recipients
The Humanities Institute of the College of Arts and Sciences is pleased to announce the results of the fall 2017 grant competition. The project grants competition is judged by the Program Grants Committee, chaired by Dr. Jerelyn Johnson, Associate Director of the Humanities Institute.
The following projects were identified by the Humanities Institute Program Committee as meritorious and worthy of support:
The Humanities Institute of the College of Arts and Sciences is pleased to announce the results of the summer 2017 grant competition. The project grants competition is judged by the Program Grants Committee, chaired by Dr. Nels Pearson, Associate Director of the Humanities Institute.
The following project was identified by the Humanities Institute Program Committee as meritorious and worthy of support:
The Humanities Institute of the College of Arts and Sciences is pleased to announce the results of the spring 2017 grant competition. The following projects were identified by the Humanities Institute Program Committee as meritorious and worthy of support:
The Humanities Institute of the College of Arts and Sciences is pleased to announce the results of the fall 2016 grant competition. The following projects were identified by the Humanities Institute Program Committee as meritorious and worthy of support:
The Humanities Seminar is a research and mentorship program for faculty and students doing work in the humanities. We envision the Humanities Seminar as the leading edge of humanities research and mentorship at Fairfield University, with significant scholarly outcomes in both faculty and student scholarship in the humanities.
Four Faculty Fellows and four Student Fellows are chosen by a selection committee and work under the direction of the Associate Director of the Humanitieis Institute. All those having a project in a humanities area, even if the home department is outside the humanities, are encouraged to apply.
The Humanities Seminar is a two-year commitment for Faculty Fellows and a one-year commitment for Student Fellows, to work in an intellectual community on individual research projects, while sharing among each other discussions of methods, procedures, theoretical considerations, and other appropriate topics of interest. Its goal is to support and to sustain humanities exploration in its broadest sense.
Any questions about the Seminar and/or application process should be directed to the Seminar Chair, Dr. Patricia Behre at email@example.com.
Faculty Fellows in the Humanities Seminar for 2017-2019
Congratulations to the successful applicants for their investiture in their two-year seminar membership!
Faculty Fellows in the Humanities Seminar for 2015-2017
The Humanities Institute is pleased to announce the selection of the inaugural Humanities Seminar Faculty Fellows for 2015-17.
Congratulations to the successful applicants for their investiture in their two-year seminar membership!
Watch the video below to learn more about our recent student fellow presentations.
Learn more about our student fellows' innovative research projects and hear from our alumni as they discuss the positive impact a liberal arts degree has had on their careers.
The Humanities departments at Fairfield have made a commitment to exploring and using all emerging tools and technologies that aid in digital humanities, both in faculty research and in classroom and pedagogical applications. The University's digital humanities hub shines a spotlight on the various digital projects being conducted by faculty (both individually and with students) across the College of Arts and Sciences’ humanities departments.
Tuesday, November 14 at 7 p.m.
Sense making: The Power of the Humanities in the Age of the Algorithm
Dolan School of Business Dining Room
Christian Madsbjerg's Sensemaking is a provocative stand against the tyranny of big data and scientism, and an urgent, overdue defense of human intelligence. He argues that our fixation with data often masks stunning deficiencies, and the risks for humankind are enormous. Blind devotion to number crunching imperils our businesses, our educations, our governments, and our life savings. Too many companies have lost touch with the humanity of their customers, while marginalizing workers with liberal arts-based skills. Contrary to popular thinking, Madsbjerg shows how many of today's biggest success stories stem not from "quant" thinking but from deep, nuanced engagement with culture, language, and history. He calls his method sensemaking. Both practical and philosophical, Sensemaking is a powerful rejoinder to corporate groupthink and an indispensable resource for leaders and innovators who want to stand out from the pack.
"Madsbjerg thinks that if businesses accept pure data as the only truth, they are in danger of losing their ability to understand people. But it is by no means the author's aim to dismiss stem subjects. Through his particular method, his intention is to help companies find the right balance. The best CEO's can read a novel and a spreadsheet." - Financial Times
Christian Madsbjerg is a founder of ReD Associates and the Director of its New York office. ReD is a strategy consulting company based in the human sciences and employs anthropologists, sociologists, art historians, and philosophers. Christian studied philosophy and political science in Copenhagen and London.
This event is free and open to the public and is presented by the Humanities Institute in the College of Arts & Sciences and the Dolan School of Business.