Carnegie Mellon Press Release: January 29, 2004
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Press Release

Jonathan Potts

For immediate release:
January 29, 2004

Carnegie Mellon Unveils Humanities Center
The research center will allow Carnegie Mellon to compete with the nation's top humanities schools

PITTSBURGH—The College of Humanities and Social Sciences at Carnegie Mellon University will launch its new Humanities Center on February 12 with a lecture by distinguished historian Eric Foner. His talk, "The Idea of Freedom in the United States, 1900 to the Present," will take place at 4:30 p.m. in the Giant Eagle Auditorium in Baker Hall. Foner is the DeWitt Clinton Professor of History at Columbia University.

The Humanities Center is a collaboration of faculty members from all four humanities departments: English, History, Modern Languages and Philosophy. Its goals are to strengthen research and teaching in the humanities; to foster collaborations among the humanities faculty and between humanities faculty and faculty in other disciplines; and to nurture a greater role for the humanities in an increasingly technological and global society.

"The Humanities Center will broaden the university's reputation beyond being a premier institution for technology and the arts, and establish Carnegie Mellon as a unique and innovative place to study the humanities," said Jared L. Cohon, the president of Carnegie Mellon.

David Shumway, the director of the Humanities Center, said the center will enrich the university's intellectual life in part by bringing to campus scholars from other institutions as visiting fellows and speakers, making available to students and faculty the resources of disciplines and specialties not normally represented at Carnegie Mellon.

"The Humanities Center will help make the excellence of Carnegie Mellon's humanities departments visible on campus and in the world at large. While often regarded as irrelevant because they do not lead to a particular career, the center will show that the humanities are in fact relevant to all careers," said Shumway, a professor of English at Carnegie Mellon. "Questions of meaning, ethics and value are central to all of our lives, and the humanities are organized to address these questions."

The Humanities Center is one part of the Humanities Initiative, an ambitious plan by the College of Humanities and Social Sciences (H&SS) to transform the humanities programs at Carnegie Mellon. As part of the Humanities Initiative, this past fall H&SS launched the Humanities Scholars Program, a rigorous, four-year interdisciplinary program open by invitation to H&SS applicants. The Humanities Scholars are able to choose from among the university's degree programs, but they also will follow a four-year course of study involving comparative and in-depth research within and across disciplines. Eighteen students are members of the program's inaugural class. Another key component of the Humanities Initiative is the Center for the Arts in Society, a multidisciplinary research and education center, operated jointly with the College of Fine Arts, which brings together scholars from the humanities, social sciences and arts.

"The Humanities Initiative will benefit all Carnegie Mellon students. Those outside the humanities will experience a broader education, while humanities students will enjoy a multidisciplinary, technologically enriched curriculum that they will not find at traditional liberal arts schools," said H&SS Dean John Lehoczky.

H&SS is the second-largest academic unit at Carnegie Mellon and offers more than 60 majors and minors. The college emphasizes interdisciplinary study in a technologically rich environment, with an open and forward-thinking stance toward the arts and sciences.


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