Conference focuses on interdisciplinary humanities, liberal arts at Emory

Emory Report | March 2, 2018

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Through panels featuring Emory’s Mellon Faculty Fellows and discussions with Emory deans and senior leadership, the Interdisciplinary Humanities Conference will explore interdisciplinary humanities and the liberal arts throughout Emory’s colleges, graduate and professional schools.

The sweeping reach of interdisciplinary humanities and liberal arts at Emory University — from current innovations and collaborations to future impacts in higher education and wider society — will be the focus of the Interdisciplinary Humanities Conference, set for later this month.

Organized through the offices of Emory President Claire E. Sterk and Provost Dwight A. McBride, the conference will be held Monday, March 26, from 8:30 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. in the Jones Room of the Woodruff Library. The event is free and open to the public. 

Through panels featuring Emory’s Mellon Faculty Fellows and discussions with Emory deans and senior leadership, the event will focus on exploring the roles of interdisciplinary humanities and the liberal arts throughout Emory’s colleges, graduate and professional schools. 

Of special focus will be the reach of humanities beyond their traditional departments and their contributions to the natural and health sciences and professions, such as business, law, ministry and the arts.

“Emory is a research university with the liberal arts at its core,” Sterk says. “This conference is an important opportunity for faculty, students and staff members to explore how Emory’s innovative work in the humanities — generously supported by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation — fuels our broader mission.” 

The conference marks the culminating event of the Humanistic Inquiry Program, made possible by a generous grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, which has contributed to Emory’s development of the interdisciplinary humanities and its recruitment of Emory’s Mellon Faculty Fellows.

It will also afford a rare opportunity to hear top leadership join with the deans of Emory’s schools in public conversation on the topic of interdisciplinary humanities and the liberal arts, which constitute the heart of higher education at Emory.

“The future of the humanities lies in bridging intellectual resources across fields of inquiry,” Sterk notes, “empowering and equipping our students to thrive in the public sphere and successfully address the challenges of the 21st century.”

Exploring interdisciplinary humanities

The framework of Emory’s Humanistic Inquiry Program is designed to advance the interdisciplinary humanities across the university, from undergraduate programs to the professional schools.

Building upon the idea that humanists bring important analytical skills to professional training, Emory has used the Mellon grant to help recruit promising young scholars who are pursuing innovative humanistic research and teaching beyond the traditional purview of humanists.

Through the scholarship of Emory’s Mellon Faculty Fellows, interdisciplinary humanities have been used to foster visions of professions that are self-aware, reflective and forward-thinking.

“One of the most exciting aspects of this conference — and the scholarship at Emory supported by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation — is that it illustrates how Emory’s pioneering work in the interdisciplinary humanities has become integral to critical reflection,” says McBride. 

“Through interdisciplinary humanities and the liberal arts at Emory, we create scholarship and encourage our students to question traditional hierarchies, assumptions and practices, and we broaden the diversity of the publics we serve,” he notes. 

Sessions will feature faculty, leadership

The day-long conference will begin with panels on the interdisciplinary humanities featuring Emory’s Mellon Faculty Fellows, including:

  • Daniel LaChance, assistant professor of history, Emory College of Arts and Sciences
  • Pablo Palomino, assistant professor of Latin American and Caribbean studies, Oxford College
  • Nichole R. Phillips, assistant professor of sociology, religion and culture, Candler School of Theology
  • Daniel Reynolds, assistant professor of film and media studies, Emory College
  • Falguni Sheth, associate professor and director of undergraduate studies in the Department of Women’s, Gender and Sexuality Studies, Emory College
  • Kylie Smith, assistant professor, Nell Hodgson Woodruff School of Nursing
  • Kate Winskell, associate professor of global health, Rollins School of Public Health

Afternoon sessions will continue with a discussion with Emory deans and senior leadership, moderated by Lisa A. Tedesco, vice provost for academic affairs – graduate studies and dean of the James T. Laney School of Graduate Studies, on “Emory as a Research University with the Liberal Arts at Its Core.”

"It's exciting to bring together leaders from across the campus to hear about the value of the humanities to the liberal arts research university,” says Michael A. Elliott, dean of Emory College of Arts and Sciences. 

The concluding session of the day will feature a discussion on the future of the humanities with McBride and Earl Lewis, former president of the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation and professor of history and African American and African studies at the University of Michigan, moderated by Sterk and followed by a reception.