Evolution of Humanity 101

Project Humanities started the conversation about humanities through the lens of “Are we losing our humanity” in the Spring of 2012. We decided that this would be one of the first of many events to be held at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C. as a partnership between the Office of Public Affairs and Project Humanities. As a result of the panel discussion, Dr. Neal Lester was then invited to participate in FAIC (The Foundation of the American Institute for Conservation of Historic and Artistic Works) Advisory Summit II, 25 October 2012.

Conversations with NEH (National Endowment for the Humanities) Assistant to the Chair, Eva Caldera, confirm that the DC Forum was a large part of the impetus for NEH, NEA (National Endowment for the Arts), and NSF (National Science Foundation), to begin substantive conversations and planning about collaborative grant opportunities.

Additionally, Project Humanities’ proposed grant, “Humanity 101: Creating a Movement” is a finalist for an ASU Women & Philanthropy sponsored grant, as a direct response to the question of “Are we losing our humanity?”

In part because of national visibility, Project Humanities received the inaugural award from the Phi Beta Kappa Society to be held in Washington, D.C on December 4, 2013. The national organization also celebrated Project Humanities at home in Tempe in February 2014. The DC event was open to legislators, policy makers, and other top-tier university administrators.

1. What is Humanity 101?

Humanity 101: Creating a Movement is a Toolbox of hands-on and virtual resources, activities, programs, guides, and technologies that identify and promote seven values—integrity, compassion, kindness, forgiveness, self-reflection, empathy and respect—as key to any personal and professional success. Building on Project Humanities’ most successful programming and research expertise, Humanity 101, as community outreach, supports educational and organizational development between ASU and surrounding communities. Humanity 101 underscores our shared human ties and a humanity we have not yet lost despite glaring headlines and senseless actions that bespeak indifference, divisiveness, intolerance, and incivility of a few that impact us all. These basic values constituting Humanity 101 transcend geographic and cultural boundaries, influence behavior and thinking, and move us all more conscientiously and responsibly toward a better way of being human—individually, communally, and globally. While this movement began at ASU, through scholarly and communal participation and collaboration, Humanity 101 grew nationally and internationally simultaneously to influence behavior and challenge common local and global narratives about rugged individualism, narcissism, and apathy.

Humanity 101 is a timely response to the pressing question of “Are we losing our humanity?” Those interested in and responding to the question want to effect change and to show that although STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) is often emphasized in defining and measuring progress or innovation, the lifeblood of any truly successful endeavor is individual responsibility, collaboration, and shared humanity.

Humanity 101 is a growing Toolbox of an interactive group and individual activities, public programs, opportunities, and scholarly resources to add perspective and meaning to our everyday lives and experiences. This multifaceted and multidisciplinary Toolbox can be transferred to and from various communities—business, medical, educational, faith-based, social, and scientific. This Toolbox is both portable and adaptable for diverse audiences and purposes such that any group, organization, or individual can more consciously and routinely utilize and engage these seven values: integrity, compassion, kindness, forgiveness, self-reflectionempathy, and respect.


2. Who benefits from this initiative?

Humanity 101 engages and accommodates diverse groups—community, education, and social groups, faith-based and sports organizations, schools, and industry; from senior citizens to high school students—in thoughtful, critical conversation and multimodal and multidisciplinary daily, weekly, and monthly activities. Humanity 101 also promotes multiculturalism and self-awareness, sensitivity, and tolerance as these seven values transcend and translate across cultures, generations, professions, disciplines, and communities; changing how individuals, organizations, and groups think about and relate to others and establishing new patterns of behavior to positively impact individuals and communities.

Organizations typically identify values with their mission and vision. Humanity 101’s values are easily recognizable as underpinning a successful workforce. Target groups and organizations benefit from Humanity 101 as group functionality, operation, and culture positively evolve when these seven values become integral to daily business and education. Sustained manifestations of these values result in improved workplace efficiencies, simplification of operations, and consequent increases in profit margins as an atmosphere of trust enables improved cooperation and increased morale. This Toolbox engages the expertise of scholars, community and business leaders, artists, celebrities, authors, and lay persons in content creation and in overall promotion and participation.


3. Why is this initiative needed?

These seven values, while not unknown to adults and children, are not necessarily consciously, meaningfully, or systematically focused on in everyday living. Humanity 101 facilitates ways to ensure that these values are at the forefront of decision-making such that actions become more thoughtful and deliberate, underscoring personal accountability and social responsibility. Humanity 101 offers new ways to learn, embrace, and incorporate these values into daily business and community practices.

While Human Resources departments and university diversity programs may focus intermittently on a few of these seven values as they relate specifically to their organization, that focus rarely connects with outside communities. Individuals may sign workplace pledges of civility with no continual or meaningful prompts for self-reflection or accountability to themselves or others. One or two required assemblies throughout the year or forgotten posters or plaques in a lounge do not engage individuals, connect to outside communities, or foster the most effective individual and communal growth.

As an enduring movement to ensure a humanity-driven, sustained consciousness, Humanity 101 is designed specifically to provide tangible guides and guidance to engage community members, provoke thought, promote critical discussion, and ultimately enrich lives. 


4. Why is Arizona State University leading this initiative?

American leadership in academic excellence and accessibility

National standing in academic quality and impact

ASU as global center for interdisciplinary research

Enhance local impact and social embeddedness

  • Empower change-makers through heightened and sustained personal responsibility and community accountability
  • Challenge everyone to fulfill human potential as individuals, members of society, and global citizens
  • Foremost voice for community-building, character-building movement
  • Values focus and practices guided by latest research and leading scholars
  • Students and faculty involved in promoting and implementing Values Toolbox
  • Major platform for scholarship of Seven Values
  • All research and every discipline, profession, and relationship engage these Values locally and globally. ASU’s research excellence depends on public adherence to Values
  • Connect individuals from multiple communities and facilitate conversation, encourage critical examination and demonstration of these Values.
  • Build and expand partnerships
  • Engage community partners in Toolbox creation/implementation


The largest US public university (over 73K students enrolled across four campuses), a leader in innovation and research, and a key changemaker locally, nationally, and globally, ASU offers a diversely rich platform from which to launch Humanity 101. ASU is a storehouse of resources to pilot, promote, and sustain Humanity 101, while simultaneously offering its brand of excellence to support and validate organizational and educational benefits of Humanity 101.


Humanity 101 is a crucial priority as it catalyzes this movement of talking, listening, connecting. The Commission of the American Academy of the Arts & Sciences (2013) proclaims: “Today's leaders in business, government, the military and diplomacy must be able to analyze, interpret, communicate, and understand other cultures.... As we strive to create a more civil public discourse, a more adaptable and creative workforce, and a more secure nation, the humanities and social sciences are the heart of the matter.” As the only university initiative that engages all facets of the university, across all campuses and in surrounding communities, Project Humanities is a local, national, and growing international success story for ASU and for Arizona. ASU and Project Humanities, through Humanity 101, are uniquely positioned to be the answer to this and similar calls to action that address the question of “Are we losing our humanity?” Like ASU's bold self-fashioning as a New American University, Humanity 101—as a university initiative—is an ambitious model unlike anything in place locally, nationally, or internationally.

5. How do we measure success?

Toolbox tangibles include: a Values eBook; a comprehensive, multimodal, and interactive Humanity 101 website with resource materials (Pay-It-Forward activities, essays, poems, video and audio vignettes, short stories, music, TV commercials, quotations, photographs, art pieces and installations, news headlines, YouTube clips, personal anecdotes, Values Pledge, events, workshops,  webinars, film discussions, contests and competitions), online digital library and modifiable Values bibliography, interactive online journaling and blogging, Daily Values Checklist and workbook, Smartphone Values app with website integration, Values events calendar, daily/weekly Values reminders, Values volunteer days, PSAs by national and international celebrities, and links to other organizations similarly engaged in Values community and educational work.

Humanity 101 Advisory Board creates, reviews, and advances a comprehensive implementation plan that includes Community Outreach, Personal/Professional/Academic Enrichment Training, Branding and Marketing, and Program/Resource Development to benefit individuals and communities. Success measures include: increased investments in this movement; increased social media traffic and interaction; increased events attendance; increased number of events; increased and expanded event locations across Arizona; increased partnership participation with groups outside of ASU; increased local and national media coverage; increased participation in and awareness of Humanity 101 Toolbox adapted to individual companies and organizations; success testimonials and feedback surveys; local and national celebrity endorsements; and faculty and student curricular involvement.


6. How is this initiative be funded?

Project Humanities seeks to fund for Humanity 101 through industry and philanthropic investments. Project Humanities has support from the ASU Foundation in creating collateral materials to support prospect cultivation and donor solicitation. Gene Schwam (Founder, Hanson and Schwam Public Relations and Marketing, Los Angeles) is compiling a list to introduce Humanity 101 to potential Hollywood collaborators—professional sports teams and Hollywood A-Listers—and to do Values television Public Service Announcements (PSAs). A Hollywood actor, two internationally-acclaimed authors, and prominent scholars are excited to participate in this effort. Such participation as speakers, workshop leaders, and content experts enhance our ability to garner other funding support.


7. How this initiative engage partners and collaborators?

Project Humanities collaborated with 52 external community, national, or international partnerships and with 43 ASU entities. While no particular group is co-sponsoring this proposal, Humanity 101 built on Project Humanities’ many successful local, national, and international collaborations: retirement communities, youth groups, faith-based groups, newspapers, television stations, arts and culture groups, community colleges and other colleges and universities, public libraries, high schools, national societies, fraternities and sororities, businesses, and ASU Colleges, Schools and academic units. Humanity 101 continues to reach within and beyond ASU to connect individuals and communities across cultures, disciplines, professions, and generations. Such partnerships involve events hosting groups and venues, media and marketing, piloting Toolbox, marketing Toolbox services, program planning and implementation, and otherwise participating in the movement.


8. Why is Project Humanities leading this initiative?

Project Humanities has changed the culture of ASU’s university/ community engagement. Diverse communities participate in our events and programs, and personal testimonials and other feedback attest that our programs are transformational. Over 20k people have participated in our events, and our national, local, and international visibility is soaring via social and traditional media. No other initiative connects more diverse audiences to ASU, and our diverse collaborators and partners are growing. Because our programs have institutional and communal credibility, Humanity 101 will be a leader in addressing local and global crises as the heartbeat of economics, medicine, business, and  STEM—the places where human life dwells and thrives, and where our faith in the possibility of people working together for a common good is renewed. Project Humanities’ broad mission and this Humanity 101 movement embody a shared commitment to excellence in education, social engagement and impact, and individual possibility. And though the values Humanity 101 seeks to promote and support do not always make headlines the way that conflict, incivility, and evil actions do, Humanity 101 embodies President Barack Obama’s sentiment: “[During times of loss], we recognize our own mortality, and we are reminded that in the fleeting time we have on this Earth, what matters is not wealth, or status, or power, or fame—but rather how well we have loved—and what small part we have played in making [our lives and] the lives of other people better.” Humanity 101 is a bold movement to impact and empower every single one of us as we create and influence positive change in our own lives and in the lives of others.