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Challenge, Create, Connect!

The quest of the humanities is to explore life’s “big” questions: What is true, good, beautiful, and right? How best can we document and preserve valued traditions, critique present conditions, and envision a hopeful future that avoids the errors of the past? The humanities help us learn not only how to make a living, but also how to make a meaningful and rewarding life.

The Humanities Institute explores these crucial questions through focused scholarship in history, philosophy, language, literature and a broad range of fields that explore the dimensions of what it means to be human. At a time when technological change, medical advances, and the dizzying speed of globalizing forces can leave us breathless, these questions are not merely interesting, but urgent.

The USF Humanities Institute provides a forum where ideas are debated, values are clarified, and students, faculty, and community come together to envision a better world through scholarship, cross-disciplinary inquiry, and public programs. We aim to strengthen our focus on relevance and community engagement, demonstrating that the joy and challenge of the humanities belong to everyone.

While we continue to take opportunities to showcase scholarship that spans the Humanities, we are foregrounding a series of interdisciplinary “signature” themes, within which specific events will be located. They will draw on both the expertise of USF faculty and the insights of visiting scholars and artists. We invite you to share in building a place where ideas may provoke and delight - engaging your intellect, your emotion, and your sense of shared cultural citizenship. Together, our signature themes argue that humanities truly matter.

Morality and Ethics in Public Life
Perhaps nothing is more urgent, as we witness the clash of values today – whether in politics, medicine, technology, the media, or the environment. We envisage a series of events throughout the year, building an ongoing debate about the vexing issues that confront us.

Science and Society
The sciences and humanities are inextricably bound, as the humanities lead the way in the consideration of the human ramifications of scientific, technological and medical changes. Building on our successful Darwin Day tradition, we hope to extend the discussion to other pressing and relevant issues.

Popular Culture: Love it or Hate it
We live in a media-saturated culture that is changing almost daily. Popular culture is often derided - yet we revel in it every day. How do we understand the impact of the popular? We plan an annual event to explore this; we began this Fall with a successful discussion of the cultural salience of the zombie, which drew well over 200 people to hear a visiting speaker and USF experts.

History, Myth and Memory
What are the lessons for humanity provided by history and archaeology? How does collective memory (or myth) shape our actions today? We will explore these questions and all the complex intersections between history, myth and memory, starting this Spring with an international symposium on “Violence, Memory, and Human Rights,” followed later in the semester by “Visions of the Apocalypse.”

The Power of the Poetic
John F. Kennedy once noted that poetry reminds us of “the richness and diversity of man’s existence;” the poetic voice challenges us to see the world in new and inspiring ways. The HI has celebrated National Poetry Month for years; this year, we have an especially exciting array of activities, including readings and workshops, as well as a new initiative, Poetry Matters at USF, through which USF notable will share a special poem, and explain what it means to them. Some may surprise you!

Global Identities
As the world shrinks, and USF positions itself as a global university, increasingly pressing questions present themselves. HI will offer events that speak to the challenges and opportunities presented as the world grapples with issues of migration, ethnicity, citizenship, gender, human rights, sports, imperialism, and more.

Focus on Florida
Even though it’s often said that everyone in Florida is from somewhere else, we really do live in a unique place, with its own distinctive history, culture, and natural environment. Starting this year, we plan to find ways to celebrate (and perhaps even critique) that uniqueness. Plans are underway for a special event next Fall that will explore the human connections with the Hillsborough River, bringing the community and university into close partnership.

We have an ambitious vision, and in an era of dwindling resources, we will need help. Think what your contribution could do –underwrite a lecture series, sponsor an event, build a community initiative, or join other gifts to sponsor a Faculty Fellow. Click here to find out more.