The humanities is a branch of knowledge that studies human beings–their values, capacities, environments, and cultures. Have you ever wondered how the humanities fit into your educational goals? Your professional or economic goals? How about the wellbeing of your family, community, neighborhood, city? Have you ever wondered about the role humanities might play in civic decision-making and more equitable futures? If so, you’re a public humanist! A public humanist is someone who coordinates opportunities for lots of people to come together to think, make, and create cultural activities that contribute to broader social justice and flourishing.
What are the public humanities? The public humanities are a suite of democratic and creative knowledge practices that facilitate campus-community partnerships to help societies craft new ways of understanding and responding to the world(s) humans share and the challenges we face. According to Humanities for All, the overarching goals of the public humanities include:
- “Informing contemporary debates;
- Amplifying community voices and histories;
- Helping individuals and communities navigate difficult experiences;
- Expanding educational access; and
- Preserving culture in times of crisis and change.”
On the granular scale, the public humanities have the capacity to connect folks inside and outside the university toward common goals and creative projects through the joy of collaborative thinking and making. On the macroscopic scale, they have the power to shift the way universities function within larger publics to secure maximal civic engagement, social uplift, and flourishing.
Why CUNY? 79% of CUNY students attend NYC public schools and 80% of CUNY graduates remain in NYC. CUNY publics are NYC publics! CUNY is a powerful university to explore the potential of publicly-engaged work in the humanities toward transformative, activist ends.
Who should take the survey? Check here to see if you’re eligible. Please share widely with your eligible friends, colleagues, and publics!
Why the Center for the Humanities at the CUNY Graduate Center? The Center launched The Seminar on Public Engagement and Collaborative Research, the first public humanities platform of its kind at CUNY. Advancing transdisciplinary scholarship that engages the City University of New York’s myriad constituencies within and beyond the university toward transformative, activist ends, the Seminar is a structure for scholarly innovation grounded in collaborative, creative, and discursive public projects.
Why is this work important? Because it builds toward a more just, discursive, and creative society, wherein public well-being is measured in part by how many people are supported in their efforts to gain access to higher learning, produce and preserve culture, solve practical and intellectual problems, and facilitate social uplift on their own terms.
Can you help us expand public humanities work at CUNY by participating in this survey? The survey is built around agree/disagree statements. Click Agree if you agree with it and/or if it applies to you; click Disagree if not (or Pass/Unsure if appropriate). Each time you click, a new statement will appear in random order.
If your voice or perspective is missing from this survey, add your own agree/disagree statements in the box provided at the bottom of the survey interface. Your feedback may be integrated into the survey for future participants to weigh in on. You can add as many comments as you like.
Want to learn more about Pol.is? Read theses pieces about other Pol.is projects:
- “The simple but ingenious system Taiwan uses to crowdsource its laws”, MIT Technology Review
- “Building Consensus and Compromise on Uber in Taiwan”, Center for Public Impact
- “Taiwan is making democracy work again. It’s time we paid attention”, Wired
Want to know more about what makes a good Pol.is comment? Click here to learn more about how participant comments inform Pol.is conversations.
Our group values both the power of survey data, as well as believes in participatory and transdisciplinary research processes. We will conduct rigorous research, seek feedback on progress from engaged public humanities communities across CUNY, and make the resources and outcomes available to the publics.
The public-facing final report will be accessible via the Center for the Humanities’ website, published and distributed by Distributaries, the Seminar for Public Engagement and Collaborative Research’s publishing imprint showcasing new writing in the public humanities.