Area Studies Centers Community Programs | Center for Gender Studies | Center for the Study of Race, Politics, and Culture | Civic Knowledge Project | Collegiate Scholars Program | St. Paul Chamber Orchestra's CONNECT Program | Smart Museum Education Programs | Uncovering New Chicago Archives Project | Washo Documentation and Revitalization Project | Xiangtangshan Caves Project | Chicago Humanities Festival
The Division of the Humanities seeks to build and strengthen the University's relationships with institutions and individuals in the community by utilizing the special abilities and interests on which humanistic inquiry depends. Among these interests is the desire to preserve the treasures of the past (be they texts, objects, performances, films, or languages) and to bring insights derived from these treasures to bear on issues of present importance. Some of our faculty achieve this by participating in established University-wide programs such as the Collegiate Scholars Program, a three-year enrichment program of courses offered by the University specifically for Chicago Public Schools students. Other faculty direct wide-range research that affects communities ranging from Washo people of California to Chinese citizens.
The Office of Community Affairs fully summarizes the educational programming offered across campus. These include programs offered by our professional arts organizations, such as the YouthWrite Program at the University Theater, a Saturday morning playwriting program for students in middle school, or the multi-year engagement of local teachers, students, and families through the education programs at the Smart Museum.
As a provision of their Title VI federal funding, the University's six Area Studies Centers each run community-oriented outreach projects. The South Asia Language and Area Center, for example, holds a teacher's workshop every spring, sponsors various cultural events, and hosts seminars and talks on topics pertaining to South Asia. Their programs and activities focus on developing better educational material and resources for teachers in the Chicago area. The outreach office offers for loan a large range of educational materials, including books on a wide variety of topics, videos, slide sets, curriculum units, and "hands on" teaching kits.
The Center for Gender Studies was established in 1996 by Leora Auslander and a core group of faculty from across the University to consolidate work on gender and sexuality, as well as feminist, gay, lesbian, and queer studies. Along with fostering teaching, research, and discussion at the University, the center seeks to reach out into public areas where gender and sexuality come together with political, artistic, and intellectual concerns. The center's interdisciplinary approach draws faculty from departments as diverse yet interconnected as literature, history, sociology, anthropology, cinema and media studies, law, and medicine.
The Center for the Study of Race, Politics, and Culture is dedicated to promoting engaged scholarship and debate around the topics of race and ethnicity, how these ideas and their structures effect and shape people's lives, and how they intersect with other primary identities such as gender, class, sexuality, and nationality. Uniquely situated both geographically and historically on the South Side of Chicago and within the University of Chicago's tradition of excellence in sociological studies, the center maintains close links with local communities, working in partnership with community groups and activists to produce research that is theoretically innovative but also useful and empowering to those communities.
The Civic Knowledge Project (CKP) is the office for community engagement within the Division of the Humanities at the University of Chicago. Established in July of 2003, The Civic Knowledge Project aims to build programs and institutional affiliations that enhance the circulation of knowledge on the South Side of Chicago across lines of race, ethnicity, class, and religion. A particular concern for the project is to make the knowledge of the University of Chicago community available to other communities on the South Side and to draw the wealth of knowledge that exists in other South Side communities into the intellectual world of the University. The long-term goal is to weave together the cultural fabric of the South Side's diverse communities, among them the University community, and by so doing to enhance democratic practice.
Two Collegiate Scholars (Kai and Ashley) take in the Grant Park Film Festival
The goal of the Collegiate Scholars Program is to prepare talented students in the Chicago Public Schools for academic success at the best colleges and universities. Course work and enrichment activities are designed to help students gain firsthand experience in university-style learning from university professors. A key aspect of the program is the close involvement of faculty members at the University of Chicago, who not only teach classes but who also serve as mentors and advisers.
The St. Paul Chamber Orchestra's three-year residency at the University of Chicago has brought about a new partnership between the University and three public schools on the South Side. Bringing their award-winning CONNECT (Chamber Orchestra's Neighborhood Network of Education, Curriculum and Teachers) program with them to Chicago. Musicians visit classrooms on a regular basis throughout the school year, teachers trains in effective methods of bringing music into their curriculum, and students experience music that goes beyond the Western chamber music tradition.
The Smart Museum of Art runs a variety of activities and provides resources for teachers, students, and families. The Smart Explorers is a program for fifth graders that involves a number of museum visits and classroom activities leading up to a open evening at the museum when students serve as curators for a chosen artifact to an audience of classmates and family members. Professional development programs are provided for teachers and a range of online activities is also available to teachers and students for use in the classroom or at home.
From left to right, Darryl Heller, a PhD student in History, Christina Petersen, a PhD student in Cinema and Media Studies, and Monica Mercado, a PhD student in History, review files at the offices of the Chicago Defender.
Important and previously unprocessed historical collections in the city of Chicago are being made available to researchers through UNCAP, the Uncovering New Chicago Archives Project. This project improves access to important archival collections at the University of Chicago while providing access to a wide range of archives at other institutions as well. Institutions include the DuSable Museum of African-American History; the Chicago Defender; the Chicago Public Library, Carter G. Woodson Regional Library, Vivian G. Harsh Research Collection of Afro-American History and Literature; and the South Side Community Art Center. At the University of Chicago, the project includes contemporary poetry collections and the Chicago Jazz Archive, both located in the Special Collections Research Center of the University of Chicago Library. The project is generously funded by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation and is directed by Alice Schreyer, Director of the Special Collections Research Center, Regenstein Library. Jacqueline Goldsby, Associate Professor of English, is directing the work related to the African American material. The online database of original historical sources in Chicago is now available to students, researchers, and scholars around the world.
The Washo Documentation and Revitalization Project-guided by Alan C. L. Yu, Assistant Professor of Linguistics-aims to create an archive of the language spoken by the Native American Washo people on the Nevada-California border. The main objective of this project is a detailed study of the phonetics and phonology of the Washo language since a solid understanding of the phonetics and phonology of the language is paramount to understanding the other components of the language (e.g., the morpho-syntax, syntax, and discourse). With no more than twenty elderly speakers surviving, the project also aims to preserve the language through interaction and cooperation with the tribe. Accounts of creation myths, rituals, and food preparation have already been collected. Another objective is the creation of a Web-based digital archive to make Washo data accessible to scholars and, of equal or greater importance, to the native community itself.
The Xiangtangshan/Northern Qi project focuses on the Buddhist cave temples of Xiangtangshan in China's Hebei province. Owing to their artistic brilliance the caves suffered serious damage in the early part of the twentieth century when many details were forcibly cut from the walls of the caves and taken out of China. These artifacts are now scattered throughout museums and private collections around the world. The project aims to re-contextualize the artifacts and "restore" the caves through a three-dimensional digital reconstruction, which will be made available for educational and research purposes. With generous support from a Getty Foundation Collaborative Research Grant and the Carpenter Foundation, the project is advancing international cooperation with scholars and officials while preserving an significant monument for the citizens of China.
The Xiangtangshan/Northern Qi project focused on Buddhist cave temples in China's Hebei province. Owing to their artistic brilliance, the caves suffered serious damage in the early part of the twentieth century when many details were forcibly cut from the walls of the caves and taken out of China. These artifacts are now scattered throughout museums and private collections around the world. In 2004, the University of Chicago’s Center for the Art of East Asia launched a project to identify, locate, research, and document the dispersed stone carvings of the Xiangtangshan caves. Using sophisticated 3-D scanning equipment, the project’s imaging team photographed and scanned nearly 100 objects believed to be from Xiangtangshan and now located in museums and private collections around the globe. Through a collaboration with Peking University and the Fengfeng Office for the Protection and Management of Cultural Properties, the imaging team was also granted official permission to photograph and scan the Xiangtangshan cave sites. The project culminated with an exhibit organized by the Smart Museum of Art and the Smithsonian Institution's Arthur M. Sackler Gallery in 2010. Echoes of the Past is now on tour and will be exhibited nationwide. A digital archive of the project, cave sites, and dispersed sculptures is available online at xts.uchicago.edu.
In fall, 2007, the Humanities Division partnered for the first time with the Chicago Humanities Festival to present programming on environmental and sustainability issues. Since then, the festival has sponsored a Festival day in Hyde Park to coincide with the University of Chicago’s Humanities Day. These collaborative initiatives have continued to bring Festival programming to south side venues. Sustainability discourse and programming continues to be an area of interest for the University of Chicago and its neighbors.