News | 9 March 2018

The Humanities win big on Giving Day


We asked for support and the community stood up and delivered for the Humanities.

This year’s Giving Day—UC Santa Cruz’s annual, 24-hour fundraising drive—broke records and saw an outpouring of dollars to some of our most innovative programs. Two Humanities Institute initiatives rose to the top: According to the Giving Day website, The Gail Project received the most individual donations, and the Center for Public Philosophy raised the second-most dollars. These successes show that the UCSC community values and champions our important work.

“Whether we’re supporting field research for undergrads or facilitating philosophical debates for people outside the university system, The Humanities Institute is delivering valuable opportunities for those who want to engage with the world and each other,” says Irena Polić, Managing Director of The Humanities Institute.

These programs rose to the top on Giving Day thanks in part to the first-ever fundraising class jointly offered by the Humanities division and Cowell College, and led by Cowell Provost and Associate History Professor Alan Christy. Students from six Giving Day projects—three of which were from the Humanities Institute—participated in the class, and the crowdfunding success that followed demonstrates that they gained the knowledge and skills to successfully advocate for their academic interests.

Of course, it’s not just students in Christy’s class who effectively championed the Humanities. All The Humanities Institute-supported programs in the running on Giving Day—including The Dickens Project and Nido de Lenguas—benefitted significantly. With the funding they received, The Dickens Project will be able to support two community college students’ coming to the Dickens Universe summer program, and Nido de Lenguas can continue supporting student researchers and Oaxacan language speakers.

According to the Giving Day website, The Gail Project inspired 365 donations on Giving Day—the most of any program—and raised over $20,000. It gives undergraduate students the opportunity to do in-depth research in Okinawa, Japan. Inspired by a collection of 1950s-era photos taken by a U.S. soldier stationed in Okinawa during the Korean War, students record oral histories to preserve Okinawan heritage and traditions. Immersive research programs for undergraduates, like the Gail Project, build analytical and problem-solving skills they can use throughout life. Now, thanks to the hundreds of people who lent their support, we can get more students to Japan to do real, impactful research.

The Center for Public Philosophy received $36,385—the most dollars raised of any Giving Day program. The Center teaches inquiry and non-adversarial methods of debate to underserved high school students, prison and jail inmates, and elementary school children. It inspires people from all walks of life to embrace complexity, form opinions, and face intellectual challenges. The outpouring of support on Giving Day means that the Center can invite more program participants to have eye-opening dialogues across Northern California.

“We design our programming to spark the public’s interest and engage a broad swath of the community,” says Nathaniel Deutsch, Director of The Humanities Institute. “To see such an outpouring of support for the Humanities on Giving Day was really encouraging. It makes us that much more certain that something big is happening here.”