At the annual National Humanities Conference, which took place November 1-5, 2017 in Boston, the IHR helped to put together a public humanities-oriented panel titled “Graduate Students Bridging Academic & Public Humanities.” The panelists included UCSC Literature PhD alum Kendra Dority, who is now Assistant Director at the Center for Innovations in Teaching and Learning on campus, and Literature graduate students Sarah Papazoglakis and Kara Hisatake. The panel was moderated by Julie Fry, President and CEO of California Humanities.
Julie Fry expressed that the IHR-funded Public Fellows program was her “gateway drug” to working with graduate students and utilizing a larger connection between academics and humanities councils. In summer 2016, Sarah Papazoglakis worked with California Humanities to research the organization’s 40-year history and conduct interviews of project directors. Ever since Fry’s experience working with Papazoglakis, California Humanities has continued to work with graduate students from UC Santa Cruz and UC Irvine. Fry highlighted the importance of a good fit between graduate student and organization in ways that benefit both.
At the conference, the panelists discussed the successes and challenges of the different fellowship models with which they engaged, as well as personal and academic progress they made during the public fellows program, which was initiated by IHR in the summer of 2016. Kara Hisatake worked with the Japanese American Museum of San Jose as a grant writer, while Kendra Dority collaborated with Santa Cruz Shakespeare on educational programming. Each panelist agreed that, when engaging in public-facing work, the mission of public humanities councils and organizations, research centers, and universities are linked.
Members of the audience included Project Manager of MLA Connected Academics Stacy Hartman, Executive Director of the Association for Jewish Studies Warren Hoffman, and Humanities New York Public Director Adam Capitanio, among others interested in the link between humanities graduate education in the multiple sectors of the humanistic world. With such an audience invested in what humanities PhDs can do with research expertise and skills outside of academia, discussion among audience and panelists was robust.
The panelists agree that the National Humanities Conference was a positive experience as a place where state humanities councils and organizations, university-affiliated research centers, and those in public-facing academia can gather and pursue exciting questions and programs for the future of the humanities.