The Humanities at Carnegie Mellon University as practiced in its four humanities departments, English, History, Modern Languages, and Philosophy, provide broad reflexive analysis of humankind and its artifacts: from poems and other literary forms through mathematical theorems and scientific theories to technology and social organizations. Such analyses incorporate among others hermeneutic, historical, formal, ethnographic, critical, and quantitative methods. This broad and distinctive vision of the humanities has yielded some research themes that provide the basis for interdisciplinary inquiry: historical and global perspectives on culture; science and technology; languages, literature, and discourse; arts and society; cognition and rational decision making; race, gender, and human identity; ethics and public policy.
The Humanities Center at Carnegie Mellon University will support and augment the vision of the humanities departments in a threefold mission:
- To strengthen research and teaching in the humanities;
- To foster interdisciplinary collaboration among the humanities faculty and between humanities faculty and faculty in other disciplines;
- To foster a greater role for the humanities, nationally and internationally, in an increasingly technological and global society.
The Center will strengthen the humanities at Carnegie Mellon by:
- Creating a better research environment for current humanities faculty. The center will stimulate research by providing internal fellowships and by bringing diverse outsiders to campus. The provision of internal fellowships will make leave time available to humanities faculty who do not now have access to regular internally sponsored leaves. A Center program to bring fresh new faces to campus to participate with Carnegie Mellon faculty in seminars, conferences, and other forums, will produce new synergies. Compared to scholarship in the sciences and technology, collaborative work among humanities faculty is less well developed at Carnegie Mellon, but opportunities for such collaboration are exceptionally important for the continued vitality of research.
- Increasing national visibility for the humanities at Carnegie Mellon. The existing humanities departments at Carnegie Mellon maintain high standards of excellence in both teaching and research. With a systematic program to bring leading and rising young scholars to campus, Carnegie Mellon can showcase the work of faculty in its humanities departments. Conferences, seminars, and the resulting publications will create an awareness of Carnegie Mellon, inside and outside the academy, as a place where the humanities are studied and taught innovatively and exceptionally well.
- Providing resources for the humanities curriculum. Because of the small size and large programmatic burdens of each of Carnegie Mellon’s humanities departments, current undergraduates do not have the same range of course options that students at most Research 1 universities have. By bringing in senior and postdoctoral research fellows who will teach at least one course each, the center will enlarge the current humanities curriculum, especially in the new Humanities Scholars Program. By providing undergraduate fellowships, the Center will encourage hands-on research by students. Moreover, the Center can provide both financial and intellectual support to humanities graduate students.
- Stimulating interest in the humanities on campus. Carnegie Mellon's historic emphasis on technology, science, and the arts, has meant that students (not to mention faculty) are often unaware of the humanities at Carnegie Mellon and what these disciplines have to offer for their college experience. Through its programming and in collaboration with the Center for the Arts in Society, the Humanities Center will raise the profile of the humanities on campus. Through its interdisciplinary emphasis, it will make students aware of the connections between the humanities and other disciplines.
The Center will foster interdisciplinary collaboration among the humanities faculty and between humanities faculty and faculty in other disciplines by:
- Organizing seminars for fellows and other members of the Carnegie Mellon community. Participants will include humanists from diverse disciplines and, where appropriate, social and natural scientists. The seminars will be focused narrowly enough that collaborative or group publications could emerge from them.
- Sponsoring conferences and lecture series designed to bring together researchers from various humanities disciplines and from other disciplines.
The Center will foster a greater role for the humanities nationally and internationally, in an increasingly technological and global community world by:
- Providing support for scholars whose work is likely to have an impact beyond the confines of a narrow disciplinary specialty.
- Bringing together humanists with other researchers to produce interdisciplinary studies that illustrate ways in which a humanistic perspective should be central to the way we understand and confront the world.
- Conducting systematic public outreach. The Center will foster public awareness and understanding of the humanities through programming and publications designed for non-specialists. The Humanities Center at Carnegie Mellon University will seek to collaborate with other humanities centers in this effort.