Carnegie Mellon University
October 02, 2019

Dietrich College Launches the Humanities@CMU Initiative

Abby Simmons
  • Dietrich College of Humanities and Social Sciences
  • 412-268-6094

Carnegie Mellon University's Dietrich College of Humanities and Social Sciences is launching an initiative that will promote and advance the university's strengths in the humanities. Among its many goals, the Humanities@CMU Initiative will identify intellectual areas involving the humanities that represent real opportunity for growth in education and research, and create strategies for forming a stronger community of students and faculty interested in the humanities.

Richard Scheines, the Bess Family Dean of the Dietrich College of Humanities and Social Sciences, announced the initiative in a letter to his college's faculty, staff, students and alumni today. The launch of the Humanities@CMU Initiative follows a town hall on the humanities held in April to solicit feedback and ideas from members of the university community.

"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," Scheines said. "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."

Led by Andreea Ritivoi, head of the Department of English, the Humanities@CMU Initiative will pursue a number of goals and introduce new programs to benefit students, faculty and community members engaged in the humanities. Ritivoi and a steering committee consisting of faculty and students from humanities and non-humanities departments will develop strategies to meet these goals.

"CMU is known worldwide as a technology-focused institution, but we are a comprehensive university, and that means disciplinary strength across the board. In the humanities departments, we excel — as teachers, scholars and students," Ritivoi said. "Our humanities departments are home to several distinguished doctoral programs, in addition to offering undergraduate programs that are more interdisciplinary than perhaps anywhere in the country. We have room to grow, but we are starting very high already."

As part of the Humanities@CMU Initiative, the steering committee will review all of Dietrich's educational programs and research centers that involve the humanities. This includes educational programs offered by the English, History, Modern Languages and Philosophy departments.

The college hosts or is involved with numerous research and outreach centers connected to the humanities. This includes the Humanities Center's work to host the Pittsburgh Humanities Festival in partnership with the Pittsburgh Cultural Trust, as well as its International Film Festival. Other centers cross schools and colleges, including the Center for Arts and Society, a collaborative effort with the College of Fine Arts, and the recently launched Center for Informed Democracy and Social Cybersecurity (IDeaS), led by faculty in the School of Computer Science, College of Engineering and Dietrich College. In addition, the History Department's Center for Human Rights Science brings together scientists and human rights practitioners committed to rigorous assessment of the state of human rights around the world.

Humanities@CMU also will create career and internship support specifically aimed at students in the humanities. The Dietrich College's Pittsburgh Summer Internship Program, now entering its third year, is one effort already underway to connect humanities and social sciences students with internship opportunities in the region.

Through the initiative, the Dietrich College will identify strategies for increasing the public profile of the humanities in Pittsburgh, and for helping them contribute to the cultural life of the city. In addition, the steering committee will identify strategies for improving the marketing of the humanities at CMU to internal and external audiences.

Humanities@CMU also will 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.

Ritivoi and Scheines 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. The day and time for the town hall will be announced at a later date.

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