Welcome from Director Paul Reitter

Paul Reitter

Dear Friends,

I am honored to write to you as the director of The Ohio State University’s Humanities Institute, and I’m grateful to have the opportunity to have that role at such an exciting time in the institute’s history.

The Humanities Institute provides a place to raise and address fundamental questions about the role of humanities. Our mission is to support innovative and collaborative forms of inquiry, to enable discussion of institutional challenges, and to promote broader understanding of humanities perspectives across the university and in the community at large.

Acting on that aim, in fall 2012, we created a lecture series that links the humanities with Ohio State's new Discovery Themes. In its first year, the series focused on the theme of Health and Wellness. We hosted the eminent bioethicist Ezekiel Emmanuel for a talk on healthcare reform, and in the spring, the distinguished economist Deirdre McCloskey presented her views on the academic study of happiness.

Last year, the series has merged with the Provost’s Distinguished Discovery Themes Lecturer series, and the Institute played an important role in bringing to campus Sherry Turkle, a pioneering researcher of the effects of technology on human interactions, and the Pulitzer prize-winning anthropologist Jared Diamond, who spoke about applying the wisdom of traditional societies in the industrialized world. This Humanities Institute Discovery Themes Lecture Series continues this year with presentations by Marc Bousquet, Ann Blair, Susanne Freidberg and David Blackbourn.

Also in fall 2012, we launched the Public Humanities Lecture Series, bringing together the university and the community to explore and discuss a wide variety of issues that impact our lives daily and have profound implications for the quality of life in communities everywhere. The series opened with presentations by Louis Menand, one of the world’s leading public intellectuals and Jill Lepore, Harvard University professor of history and author. It continued in 2013-14 with lectures by Mark Edmundson, Tony Grafton, and Eric Klinenberg, and in 2014-15 with a public conversation with the celebrated author Zadie Smith. This year, the series will feature talks by James Young, Maria Tatar, and the acclaimed historian of the Holocaust Timothy Snyder.

Our third young lecture series, a collaboration with the American Academy in Berlin features former American Academy fellows. The first visiting scholar, poet and critic Susan Stewart, of Princeton University, spoke here in early 2015, about the figure of ruins in world literature. This year, we welcome artist Leslie Hewitt, on August 31, 2016.

We have two new programs - or really, two new outreach courses - to announce. In partnership with Ohio State's Office of Diversity and Inclusion (ODI), we are offering a credit-granting, introduction to the humanities course for parents of students in ODI's Young Scholars Program. The second course, a collaboration with the Franklin County Municipal Court CATCH program, is for survivors of human trafficking. Along with our 2015-16 lectures, both courses are described in greater detail in this year's newsletter.

Our faculty working groups program remains an important part of the humanities landscape at Ohio State, and we are gratified to have helped many worthy events and initiatives, such as the "Literature and the Brain" summer institute for high school students, through co-sponsorships.

We remain keenly aware of our obligations to the campus and greater Columbus communities, and we are extraordinarily proud to play a significant part in promoting collaboration, dialogue, education and a forum for exchange of ideas.

With that in mind, I would like to ask that you consider giving to the Humanities Institute. By investing in and supporting the work and events of the institute, you will be endorsing our model of collaborative, interdisciplinary research, teaching and public engagement, which promotes and sustains a vibrant, curious and intelligent community.

With warm regards,

Paul Reitter