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New Arts and Humanistic Inquiry initiative to invest in innovative scholarship, creative expression across Emory
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Emory University is deepening its nearly two-century-long commitment to the liberal arts with a new investment to expand innovative scholarship and creative expression focused on the human experience. Launching in fall 2023, the Emory Initiative for Arts and Humanistic Inquiry will support hiring up to 30 new faculty across five Emory schools, who will join humanistic and artistic scholars already at Emory to explore the human condition and critical questions facing individuals and society in our times.

“At Emory, we believe humanistic inquiry and creative expression are integral to the future of our institution, our students and all of society,” says Ravi V. Bellamkonda, provost and executive vice president for academic affairs. “Indeed, in an era when some are disinvesting in the humanities, Emory has decided to double down — because we think humanistic inquiry is particularly essential at this critical juncture in our shared history.

“At a time of rapid technological, societal and environmental change, scholars and artists who can shine a light on the human experience will help us face challenges and find new ways to grow and flourish.”

Hired through five schools Emory College of Arts and Sciences, Oxford College, Candler School of Theology, Goizueta Business School and Emory University School of Law — with partial funding from the Office of the Provost, these new faculty will help each school bolster signature strengths and build capacity in areas of strategic priority. Deans of each school have established unique frameworks highlighting how the initiative can advance distinctive scholarship and interdisciplinary inquiry within their schools.

In an era when some are disinvesting in the humanities, Emory has decided to double down — because we think humanistic inquiry is particularly essential at this critical juncture in our shared history.

“Emory’s innate strength in the liberal arts informs everything we do here — it’s central not only to the university’s mission to serve humanity but also to understand its changing condition,” says Candler Dean Jan Love, who guided the initial framing of the new initiative along with fellow deans Mary Anne Bobinski, Kenneth Carter, Carla Freeman and Gareth James. 

“Through investment in our schools’ key strengths, deans’ visions and liberal arts heritage, the Arts and Humanistic Inquiry initiative will advance our shared knowledge of what it means to be and to express ourselves as humans,” Love adds.

“Moreover, it will center Emory as a future-driven institution in which these important questions are courageously generated and creatively addressed,” she says. “I look forward to welcoming faculty who will help Candler advance its scholarship towards the common good, serve a diverse student body, and inform students’ practices of faith and leadership as they engage with communities both local and global.”

The Arts and Humanistic Inquiry initiative will also support expanded programming in the Bill and Carol Fox Center for Humanistic Inquiry to serve faculty across the university — enhancing research and teaching in the liberal arts and catalyzing new collaborations among scholars in the creative arts, interdisciplinary humanities and qualitative social sciences.

In February 2023, Bellamkonda named Freeman, interim dean of Emory College, as the Fox Center’s next director. Freeman will step into the role, currently held by Walter S. Melion, after the university names Emory College’s next dean, with the goal of expanding the center’s reach and impact.

“We envision the Fox Center as a magnet for collaboration and innovative scholarship that attracts students and faculty from humanities and the qualitative social sciences,” says Freeman. “In addition to serving as an intellectual hub for humanistic scholars at Emory, we will engage colleagues across Atlanta, the U.S. and internationally, through workshops, conferences and other activities. 

“Together, the outstanding scholars we attract through the Arts and Humanistic Inquiry initiative and expanded role of the Fox Center will put a spotlight on Emory as a locus for innovative humanistic exploration and artistic work.”

The Initiative for Arts and Humanistic Inquiry joins other recent investments Emory has made to foster faculty eminence and innovation through scholarship and creative expression — both key focus areas of the reimagined One Emory: Ambition and Heart strategic framework announced by President Gregory L. Fenves in February 2023.

These investments include AI.Humanity, a major faculty recruitment, education and research initiative which brings together new and current faculty from not only STEM-related fields but business, economics, law, literature, ethics and more to guide the development of artificial intelligence to serve humanity; the Emory Climate Research Initiative, an interdisciplinary effort to maximize the impact of research and teaching efforts focused on climate change; and funding opportunities supporting innovative scholarship in racial justice and equity and arts and social justice, among others.

Each of these efforts complements and builds upon Emory’s distinctive strengths in the liberal arts, while furthering the university’s shared commitment to create, preserve, teach and apply knowledge in service to humanity, notes Bellamkonda.

“The arts and humanities are fundamental to Emory’s values and to the distinctive contributions we make to the world,” says Bellamkonda. “Through Arts and Humanistic Inquiry and other investments in our academic mission, we will unleash imagination and discovery to address 21st-century challenges and positively influence the human condition in the decades ahead. I am grateful to senior vice provost Lanny Liebeskind for working with our deans and other faculty leaders in shaping the vision for this exciting new effort.”

Faculty recruitment through the Arts and Humanistic Inquiry initiative is expected to begin in August, with nominations initiated through the regular hiring process within each participating school. Nominees will be evaluated by the Arts and Humanistic Inquiry Faculty Advisory Committee (see below) and collective input provided to the Provost’s Office for final decision on partial funding support through the Initiative.

For more information, visit the Emory Initiative for Arts and Humanistic Inquiry website.

Arts and Humanistic Inquiry Faculty Advisory Committee

Matthew C. Bernstein, Goodrich C. White Professor of Film and Media

Valeda Dent, vice provost, libraries and museum

Mary L. Dudziak, Asa Griggs Candler Professor of Law

Carla Freeman, Goodrich C. White Professor of Women’s Gender and Sexuality Studies; director, Fox Center for Humanistic Inquiry

Kevin Karnes, associate dean for the arts

Valérie Loichot, Samuel Candler Dobbs Professor of French and Italian (returning department chair effective Aug. 1. 2023)

Wesley Longhofer, Goizueta Foundation Term Associate Professor of Organization & Management; executive academic director, Business & Society Institute

Joshua Mousie, associate professor of philosophy

Deric Shannon, associate professor of sociology

Jill Perry-Smith, professor of organization & management; senior associate dean, strategic initiatives

Jonathan Strom, professor of church history; director of international initiatives

Elizabeth Wilson, Samuel Candler Dobbs Professor of Women's Gender & Sexuality Studies; director of undergraduate studies

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