The Franke Institute for the Humanities is both an idea and a place. Conceptually, it represents the highest teaching and research ambitions of the University of Chicago by sponsoring creative and innovative work in established academic disciplines in the arts and humanities, and encouraging new projects that cross traditional disciplinary and departmental lines. Materially, its physical space—a suite of offices and public rooms in the Regenstein Library—provides facilities where scholars and artists can work, and where their work can be tested and disseminated through discussions, debates, symposia, and public lectures and conferences. Founded in 1990 and named for Barbara and Richard Franke in 1999, the institute is dedicated to maintaining a critical perspective on humanistic learning, fostering collaboration, and opening the humanities to the public through the Chicago Humanities Forum lecture series.
In 2007–8 the Franke Institute opened a Center for Disciplinary Innovation. The center offers graduate team–taught courses that keep disciplinary questions continually in focus while bringing attention to issues of broad concern, particularly those of method and epistemology.