2021 Impact Report


Download THI’s 2020-2021 Annual Impact Report (PDF)

Download THI’s 2020-2021 Student and Community Impact Report (PDF)

Cultivating a New Kind of Institute.

The Humanities Institute at UC Santa Cruz is a global hub for academic research, cross-discipline collaboration, and public engagement. We support the work of faculty and students, and collaborate with our community partners to tackle the questions that matter to all of us.

We incubate ideas and foster collaboration by funding projects, centers, and research clusters that connect different scholars (often in different disciplines) to work on some of the biggest problems of our day. We see the big picture and the details. We see the forest and the trees.

Understanding the Humanities Today

Humanities are not a luxury; they are a necessity. We live in an era of fake news, big data, and debates over free speech.

That is why we are committed to engaging with the broadest community possible—from first-generation students and scholars in every discipline, to local residents and anyone interested in making sense of our complex world.

History, Literature, Language, Philosophy—the core elements of the Humanities—are also basic building blocks of a liberal arts education. And this kind of education, for which UC Santa Cruz is justly famous, remains more important than ever as science and technology increasingly shape our world. The Humanities have always played a crucial role in producing engaged citizens and critical thinkers.

Get Involved with The Humanities Institute

Today more than ever, we need critical thinking, human understanding, abstract thought, and curiosity. These tools are essential to our understanding of the world and will help us chart our way in a constantly evolving culture and society.

What we do is as diverse as UC Santa Cruz’s student body. On any given day, the work we support could help frame breaking news from China, Algeria, or Venezuela. An understanding of Shakespeare’s use of language informs how we think of identity, gender, even humor. And responsible progress in Artificial Intelligence needs ethical thinking and humanistic underpinnings.

The skills of the Humanities are critical. The work of the Humanities is a public good and it’s up to our most inclusive public institutions, and their supporters, to advance this research and share it with a wide audience.



Public Programs (since 2012)



Extramural Funds (since 2009)



Fellows Supported (since 1999)


Research Projects



Research Fellowships (since 1999)

YEAR IN REVIEW 2020-2021

Impactful Community Events

Compelling events are at the core of THI’s public mission. This year’s transition online enabled new and broader audiences to join the THI community and engage with our programming. Our events with thought-leaders including alumnus Ezra Klein, Morgan Parker, Tommy Orange, Ta-Nehisi Coates, Dwayne Betts, and Saidiya Hartman reached more than 13,000 households around the world.


Community Impact by the Numbers







Programming Highlights

The Deep Read is an annual program that brings together students, staff, faculty, alumni, and members of the public to explore an acclaimed book by a living author. Consisting of guided discussions and salons, a community message board, and a credit-bearing course for undergraduates, it fosters critical reflection and lively conversation about questions of broad human concern in our contemporary moment. Our 2021 Deep Read was centered on Tommy Orange’s There There, a novel about Native Americans living in and around Oakland, CA. 6,000 subscribers were given space to read together, share their insights, and hear presentations from faculty in Feminist Studies, Literature, and Anthropology, members of the Amah Mutsun Tribal Band— the Indigenous tribe native to the Santa Cruz region—and the book’s author.

THI’s 2020-2021 theme was Memory, and we led conversations in Santa Cruz and beyond on the many facets of memory and its significance in our lives. We co-sponsored over 165 events with community partners, including Bookshop Santa Cruz and Marcus Books, as well as campus partners, such as the Institute of the Arts and Sciences and the Research Center for the Americas. Our Spring Quarter Memory Series shared UC Santa Cruz research with a wide audience and we launched a new course on “Memory and the Americas” in three colleges. Meanwhile, our Public Fellows program created experiential learning opportunities for students to work with community organizations, including Senderos, Catamaran Literary Reader, and the Santa Cruz Museum of Art and History.

YEAR IN REVIEW 2020-2021

Cultivating Excellence

The Humanities Institute provides scholars with vital support to pursue groundbreaking research and public humanities projects. We incubate ideas by funding projects, centers, and clusters that enable faculty and students to ask innovative research questions.

Campus Impact by the Numbers



Graduate Support

95 graduate fellows, mentors, and instructors



Faculty Support

106 faculty fellows, research clusters, centers, mentors, and projects



Undergraduate Support

44 fellows, researchers, and project participants

Recent Grant Highlights

Maziar Toosarvandani, Ivy Sichel, Matthew Wagers
National Science Foundation

Massimiliano Tomba, History of Consciousness
Princeton University

Greg O’Malley, History
National Endowment for the Humanities


Invest in THI

Support our work and invest in the next generation of critical thinkers and citizens, bold new research in the Humanities, and events that spark fresh thinking and keep your community talking. Stay curious. Get involved with The Humanities Institute today.

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