Planning for the first phases of the Humanities and Arts Discovery Theme got under way on Monday, July 27, when five faculty planning leaders gathered for a day-long meeting.
Angus Fletcher (English), Susan Melsop (Design), Margaret Newell (History), Lisa Shabel (Philosophy) and Norah Zuniga-Shaw (Dance) were chosen to provide initial leadership for planning the new Discovery Theme by Susan Williams, vice dean of arts and sciences, and Mike Boehm, vice provost for academic and strategic planning. Williams and Boehm are serving as the Theme’s co-architects.
These faculty leaders were selected through an open application process with an eye to a range of perspectives and on the basis of their ideas for advancing the goals Provost Joseph E. Steinmetz has set for the Humanities and Arts theme. These goals include deepening student engagement in the humanities and arts, building intellectual community and collaboration among faculty throughout the university whose scholarly and teaching interests are in the humanities and arts, and increasing Ohio State’s national presence and distinction in the humanities and arts.
In a wide-ranging discussion, the participants shared perspectives on what some are calling the crisis in the humanities and arts, which they agreed might best be characterized as a culture of scarcity and of morale in the context of an emphasis on education as vocational preparation.
Within that context, the group considered how best to encourage conversations about the humanities and arts at Ohio State so that the Humanities and Arts Discovery Theme might become a vehicle for a cultural shift across the university.
The meeting culminated in a discussion of how to frame a university-wide, inclusive conversation on the humanities and arts at Ohio State, in conjunction with the 50th anniversary of the National Endowment for the Humanities and the National Endowment for the Arts.
The faculty planning leaders will be gathering additional information and meeting throughout August to develop a plan for launching a year of conversations about the humanities and arts as well as a process for an internal grants program, to start in autumn 2015.