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ASU schools to host inaugural Humanities Week

The week celebrating humanities at ASU will start on Oct. 18 and end on Oct. 22

Ross-Blakley Hall, a part of the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, is pictured on the Tempe campus on Wednesday, Oct. 13, 2021.

The College of Liberal Arts and Sciences will host the first-ever Humanities Week where different schools will organize events to promote and celebrate humanities subjects at the University from Oct. 18 to 22. 

According to Jeffrey Cohen, dean of humanities at The College, the events aim "to celebrate and to bring attention to all the different humanities initiatives and strengths that we have as a University."

The week is a collaborative effort between different humanities departments at ASU, including The College, the School of International Letters and Cultures, the College of Integrative Sciences and Arts and others.

"We wanted any humanist to feel like they can be part of the (week)," Cohen said. "The kind of humanities that I have tried to build and foster at ASU, is a humanities with the door always open, where everybody should be able to participate and celebrate and learn more."

The week will consist of both in-person and online events, spanning across all of the University's campuses. Cohen said this was not only to accommodate for COVID-19 protocols but also to grant ASU Online students the same opportunity to celebrate the week as on-campus students.

"The day will come very soon when about 50% of (The College) students are fully online, and the other 50% are on-campus, so we should try to reach everyone and make them all feel included," Cohen said.

Some online events taking place next week include a presentation on Romania's landmarks and a discussion on how the University is building and sustaining Native and Indigenous futures.

In person, the SILC Café, which normally operates every Wednesday at Durham Hall and every Friday online, will be open every day of Humanities week for students to learn more about SILC and its programs.

As the inaugural week dedicated to celebrating the humanities at ASU, faculty involved in planning the events hope they bring attention to the contributions of the subjects to the University and society.

"The humanities are the soul of the University," said Richard Amesbury, school director and professor at the School of Historical, Philosophical and Religious Studies, in an email.

"They help us to understand one another's experiences and stories, to historicize what seems natural, to question ideologies, to unlearn what passes for self-evidence, and to imagine a just society, and to compare it critically with our own."

Nina Berman, school director and professor at SILC, says humanities are key in understanding the world around us.

"Learning about other parts of the world appeals to our sense of adventure, is profoundly inspiring and intellectually satisfying and provides a broad knowledge base for lifelong learning," Berman said in an email.

Cohen said he was "blown away" by all the support when he was first working on the idea for the week-long event.

"We only started planning in June," Cohen said. "Faculty participated like crazy in so many events, it's really robust and it's above and beyond anybody's expectations. We plan to have a different artist design the logo each year, and we'll definitely be doing this again every year."

Cohen and faculty hope the week will encourage students from all different backgrounds to take an interest in the humanities field and think more critically about the world around them.

"As a critical participant in life — a reader of books, a viewer of movies, a person with opinions — you're already engaged in the humanities," Amesbury said. "The formal study of religion, history, philosophy or literature is an opportunity to refine your thinking in conversation with other people who are curious about the world, and who bring other experiences and perspectives."

The full list of Humanities Week events can be found here.

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