The Humanities Institute at UC Santa Cruz is a hub for academic research, cross-discipline collaboration, and public engagement. We incubate ideas and foster innovation by funding projects, centers, and research clusters that enable faculty and students to work on some of the biggest problems of our day.
The Institute is a source, resource, and force for Humanities-based inquiry and engagement with world events. We’re passionate about expanding the field of Humanities scholarship with digital tools and an interdisciplinary focus. And we believe strongly that the core subjects of the Humanities—philosophy, history, language and literature—should be accessible to everyone. That’s why we’re committed to engaging with the broadest community possible—from first-generation undergraduate students, to local residents, to anyone interested in compelling ideas and making sense of this increasingly complex world.
As part of the the University of California system, the Institute is able to leverage the resources of the finest public university system in the world. Part of what makes the UC system of universities great—and what makes us different from so many universities around the globe—is the central role of the Humanities in our educational experience, not only in the curriculum but also in the vibrant intellectual life of our campuses. Here at UC Santa Cruz, we possess an especially rich tradition of innovation, creativity, and collaboration in the Humanities.
ASSOCIATE PROFESSOR OF HISTORY; HISTORY UNDERGRADUATE PROGRAM DIRECTOR
ASSOCIATE PROFESSOR OF FEMINIST STUDIES AND CRITICAL RACE AND ETHNIC STUDIES
Research Program Manager
Saskia Dunkell joined The Humanities Institute team in 2019 to manage the Mellon-funded Expanding Humanities Impact and Publics project. This project supports graduate student success and public scholarship through a range of events, workshops, and initiatives. Saskia is a humanistic social scientist and holds a PhD in sociology from UCLA. Her research examines the development, spread, and implementation of transitional justice measures used to address human rights violations in the wake of mass violence, and draws on her extensive fieldwork in Colombia. Before moving to UC Santa Cruz, she was a Research Affiliate at the UCLA Promise Institute for Human Rights, a Program Director for Global Youth Connect’s Colombia Human Rights Delegation, and a Peace Corps Volunteer in the Kingdom of Tonga.
Professor of Literature; Director, Shakespeare Workshop
Jessica Guild has a BA in Latin American and Latino Studies with Honors from the University of California Santa Cruz and an MA in Cultural Sustainability from Goucher College. After several years working in youth development, Jessica found her way back to UCSC working in the Humanities Division and the Humanities Institute, where she enjoys showcasing the work of humanist students and faculty. Jessica is passionate about environmental and agricultural sustainability, traveling the world, exploring the outdoors, cooking, biking, skiing, and reading. She is also a big sci-fi and fantasy nerd.
Evin has been part of the Humanities Institute team since 2013. She has more than ten years experience managing programs, events, and communications for academic, nonprofit, and environmental organizations. Evin has a BS in Business Administration from San Diego State University and she is passionate about workplace engagement, particularly making the work environment an inclusive, cooperative, efficient, and environmentally friendly place. She especially enjoys building green teams and creating an organizational culture of sustainability. Evin is not afraid to question the status quo and is inspired by new challenges, special projects and new opportunities.
Irena Polic is the Managing Director of The Humanities Institute and a passionate advocate for the humanities in the public sphere. She studied philosophy, literature, and linguistics and is a UC Santa Cruz alumna (BA and MA in Linguistics). She returned to UC Santa Cruz in 2008 to help lead the effort to reimagine the humanities research infrastructure on campus. Prior to that, Irena worked at the UC Humanities Research Institute at UC Irvine where she managed special research projects and organized workshops, seminars, and art exhibits with international collaborators. Irena was profiled in the UC Santa Cruz Review Magazine in 2012 and selected as the Outstanding Staff Member for UC Santa Cruz in 2017. She is an active member of the Consortium of Humanities Centers and Institutes, UC Humanities Network, and the National Humanities Alliance.
Associate Professor of Linguistics
Nathaniel Deutsch is a professor of history, the Director of the Center for Jewish Studies, and the Chair of the Consortium of University of California Humanities Centers. He holds the Murray Baumgarten Endowed Chair in Jewish Studies. His award winning books include The Maiden of Ludmir: A Jewish Holy Woman and Her World (University of California Press), Inventing America’s “Worst” Family: Eugenics, Islam, and the Fall and Rise of the Tribe of Ishmael (University of California Press), and The Jewish Dark Continent: Life and Death in the Russian Pale of Settlement (Harvard University Press), for which he received a Guggenheim Fellowship. Deutsch’s writings have appeared in The New York Times, Haaretz, and many other publications and he has served as an advisor for a wide range of museums, university programs, non-profits, and other cultural organizations. He is currently co-authoring (with Michael Casper), The Camp in the Desert: Hasidim, Hipsters, and the Gentrification of Williamsburg, Brooklyn (Yale University Press, forthcoming) and creating The Digital Minhag Archive, a crowd-sourced, on-line collection of Jewish customs from around the world.