Arizona State University’s Project Humanities was conceptualized in 2010 when Neal Lester, Ph.D., served as Arizona State University’s dean of humanities in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences.
Lester’s university-level initiative engaged those within ASU and beyond in critical conversations about humanities research as well as about what’s happening in the world.
What was initially slated to be a “Year of the Humanities” with intense humanities programming across disciplines has, with president Michael M. Crow’s support, become a year-round offering of diverse programming that continues to bring individuals and communities together to “talk, listen, and connect.”
Echo: As the founding director of ASU Project Humanities, can you tell us a little about your process of realizing this was a need wishing the community and what it was like to bring this effort to life? 2010?
Lester: … The idea then was to “make humanities more robust” when there was the economic downturn and parents and students were fleeing from humanities majors to STEM and other areas. To combat this alleged “crisis in humanities,” I proposed that we within the academy work deliberately to “demystify” humanities such that humanities is not something that remains solely in an academic classroom but could and would also involve the larger and broader public …
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