Message From the Director
The Humanities Center at Texas Tech's raison d'être is to shift the narrative from any particular discipline or college to the positive and integral humanities "brand." The Center is an umbrella for humanities thinking. We support the research of our own faculty as well as working to make that research visible and central to TTU's profile. Having a humanities center is an idea that has really taken hold in research universities and top-tier liberal arts colleges across the nation, so Texas Tech is right in step.
TTU's Humanities Center was launched in January, 2015, after a few "squeaky wheel" professors in the humanities caught the attention of then-Provost, now-President Lawrence Schovanec, expressing concerns about perceived lack of visibility and support. It was the Dr. Schovanec's idea to translate their concerns into the creation of a humanities center as soon as the steering committee he appointed could devise a strategic plan.
The steering committee was nothing if not ambitious and far-sighted. The goals articulated in the strategic plan include funding faculty humanities research by faculty members, of course, but also the creation of an integrated freshman humanities course team-taught by about a dozen of our best humanities professors; an annual theme around which a lecture series will be organized each year; funding for visiting scholars and for post docs in the humanities; the possibility of an interdisciplinary master's degree in the humanities; competitive subvention awards (these help defray the cost of acquiring rights to text or images that will appear in a scholar's book—something not everyone realizes is a cost borne by the author); faculty reading groups; and, in the future, possible public humanities programs. A cruise through our website will reveal that almost all of these initiatives are up and running. The 2017-2018 theme is "Food and..."; we will host our inaugural conference in the spring.
The overarching goal of the Humanities Center is to sustain a research culture involving humanities inquiries on the TTU campus. The Center aims to be both an idea and a place (to borrow from language describing the University of Chicago's Franke Institute for the Humanities). Humanities—the succinct but capacious name for studies investigating what it is to be human in all its complexity—are at the heart of how people understand themselves and others. Helen Small, in The Value of the Humanities, defines the capacious area as "the study of the meaning-making practices of human culture, past and present, focusing on interpretation and critical evaluation." Beliefs about the past, selfhood, citizenship, morality, responsibility, kinship, love, identity, various economies, fear, rights, beauty, health, ethics, boundaries, heroism, faith, and all kinds of efficacy are hammered out, circulated, contested, defended, and revised via humanistic study. The Center is TTU's public face of this broad concept.
It is a privilege to have the opportunity to lead this exciting and ambitious endeavor—an endeavor in line with TTU's place among the top-tier research universities in the United States.
Feel free to contact us. We hope you will want to attend some (or many) of our events. If you are a humanities researcher, we invite you to apply for suitable Center programs. Thanks for visiting the website!