Humanities for the Public Good is an integrative, collaborative, practice-based graduate Certificate and Master’s degree in development. The goal of the both the Certificate and Master’s degree is to explore ways the study of the arts, history, languages, literature, philosophy, religion, and other areas that comprise our strong humanities departments in the University of Iowa College of Liberal Arts and Sciences can be combined with experiential, cross-disciplinary, cross-sectoral learning experiences to prepare students to center equity, inclusion, and social justice in any and every career or workspace. Rather than bemoaning the dearth of professorial positions, we’re genuinely hopeful that the methods, material, and mindsets of the humanities combined with practical skills and values-driven purpose can be excellent preparation for any number of careers. The program is funded through a four-year (2018-2022), $1,341,000 grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation via the Obermann Center for Advanced Studies, which is in collaboration with the UI Graduate College and College of Liberal Arts & Sciences.
Our Certificate and Master’s Degree are being designed with and for students who seek to connect humanities subject matter, mindsets, methods, and questions with the work of the culture change needed to address urgent problems like environmental degradation, economic inequities and poverty, racism, and violence that threaten the world’s future. To that end, the certificate and M.A. will be student-centered degrees that offer students ways to interweave studies in their home departments with HPG values of equity and inclusion and with experiences and skills needed to connect the knowledge, mindsets, and skills of advanced humanities study with the missions of diverse workplaces.
The program has been and continues to explore benefits of collaboration. The forms of collaboration include campus-community partnerships, team-taught courses, and creative pedagogical structures like humanities labs and funded summer internships and externships. Thanks to Mellon’s generosity, we have hosted postdoctoral fellows, graduate interns, faculty development opportunities, visiting scholars, travel to conferences, and co-learning opportunities for students, staff, faculty members, alumni, and community partners.
In line with our values of collaborative, interactive practice, we also see the certificate and future M.A. as a special opportunity to create a horizontal teaching and learning community of faculty, staff, students, and supporters from across the campus and community who share the values of HPG. Working together as educators and learners, we can give students good reasons to pursue graduate humanities degrees and give employers good reasons to hire MA and PhD graduates who integrate familiar research and writing with career skills informed by a commitment to social justice and applied practice.
The outcomes we seek are creative, equity-oriented learning opportunities to prepare students for diverse careers, specifically in the non-profit sector, public policy, government, libraries, cultural administration, technology, publishing, and institutional education and research. The program is rooted in the benefits of campus-community partnerships, team-taught courses, and funded summer internships and externships. As part of our process, the grant has already funded postdoctoral fellows, graduate interns, faculty development opportunities, visiting scholars, travel to conferences, and co-learning opportunities for students, staff, faculty members, alumni, and community partners.