Carnegie Mellon University
October 02, 2019

Announcing the Humanities@CMU Initiative

Dear faculty, staff and students:

Since the great recession of 2008, the humanities have become less popular with students (and especially with parents). While this is undoubtedly true on a national level both for humanities degrees and humanities courses, at CMU enrollments in humanities courses have increased since 2008.  Students majoring in the humanities at CMU are among the best in the nation, both compared to other humanities students but also compared to STEM students. Likewise, humanities faculty at CMU are among the finest scholars and researchers in their areas, with national and international reputations on par with those of their peers at institutions known for strength in the humanities.  We thus have an excellent opportunity to create a distinctive CMU brand in which the humanities shine in their own right but are also integrated synergistically into all areas of a university that is known for its technological leadership.

In order to take advantage of this opportunity, and in response to the town hall on the humanities held in April 2019, the Dietrich College is launching the Humanities@CMU Initiative.  Led by Andreea Ritivoi, head of the English Department, and by a steering committee that will consist of faculty and students from humanities and non-humanities departments, the initiative will:

  1. identify intellectual areas involving the humanities that present real opportunity for growth in education and research,
  2. create strategies for forming a stronger community of students and faculty interested in the humanities,
  3. review all of Dietrich’s educational programs and research centers that involve the humanities,
  4. create career and internship support specifically aimed at students in the humanities
  5. identify strategies for increasing the public profile of the humanities in Pittsburgh, and for helping them contribute to the cultural life of the city,
  6. identify strategies for improving the marketing of Humanities@CMU to internal and external audiences, and
  7. identify mechanisms by which the humanities at CMU, either alone or in collaboration with the arts, science and technology, can be more frequently and meaningfully involved in addressing current societal challenges.

We are in the process of putting together a follow-up town hall to further introduce the Humanities@CMU Initiative and to collect more input to inform the work of the steering committee. We will announce a day and time for the town hall at a later date.

Richard Scheines
Bess Family Dean
Dietrich College of Humanities and Social Sciences

Andreea Ritivoi
Professor and Head of English