Humanities at Large began with a $770,000 grant from the to the Jackman Humanities in 2019 to develop a range of activities intended to foster knowledge exchange between the academy and the public while supporting new forms of communication and collaboration through six initiatives over three years:
- An annual creative non-fiction workshop will train scholars in reaching non-academic audiences through popular outlets like The Walrus and The New Yorker.
- Annual social media training sessions will help humanities scholars communicate to a wide variety of audiences while growing the reach of their research and public profile.
- Two annual community-engagement workshops will share best practices in knowledge transfer, community-engaged research, and taking specialized research outside of the academy.
- An outreach program will place graduate students and exceptional undergraduate students in high school classrooms to share their research in humanities subjects like English, foreign languages, history, social sciences, music and art.
- The Talking Books series will feature discussion events hosted by JHI faculty fellows based around a literary anniversary or best-selling author, with a particular focus on public appeal.
- The JHI’s humanities research will be profiled in radio and podcasts, increasing public awareness of and engagement in key issues across humanities disciplines.
In addition to these initiatives, the newly created Visiting Public Humanities Fellow and Early-Career Fellow in Community-Engaged Humanities Research will join the existing New Media and Humanities Journalism Fellow and Distinguished Visiting Indigenous Faculty Fellow. The JHI also plans to create new staff positions in order to bolster the Institute’s administration and communications initiatives.
Humanities at Large will “foster the transfer of knowledge and specialized research from a publicly-supported academy to the local, national and global communities that contribute to it in so many ways,” says , director of the JHI. “It will address the need for a better public understanding of the role, value, and unique contributions of the humanities in contemporary society.”
“We are deeply grateful for this major investment by the Mellon Foundation in world-leading humanities scholarship at the University of Toronto,” says U of T President Meric Gertler. “It will enable us to disseminate ideas through new platforms and technologies, and to share our research with non-traditional audiences. Ultimately it will strengthen our ability to facilitate thoughtful public conversations on a wide range of vital questions.”