This podcast if the first in a series of lectures on the future of the humanities in public life.
The series began on 28 November 2014 with a leture by Professor Teresa Mangum, Director of the Obermann Centre for Advanced Studies at the University of Iowa.
Professor Magnum talks about how the humanities are being systematically undermined by discourses that privilege economic efficiency and utilitarian learning. There are a lot of parallels with the way we are seeing the long-valued capabilities of empathy, caring and altruism in education and health care practice being replaced by capitalistic notions of measurable cost and benefit.
In the United States, the pressures on the academic humanities grow daily. Legislators demand utilitarian curricula; university administrators invest funds and faculty in the STEM disciplines; and students’ debt drives them to vocational courses. While defending the value of the arts, history, languages, literature, philosophy, and other traditional humanities disciplines, many North American academics are also beginning to experiment with imaginative collaborations—reaching out to other disciplines and inter-disciplines such as the health humanities, to public humanities organizations, to public policy makers, and to an often overlooked audience of non-academic readers and thinkers. Humanities centers can play a critical role in fostering interdisciplinary research and teaching, creative uses of technology, inter-institutional collaboration, and publicly engaged humanities scholarship and teaching. How can scholars who are accustomed to working alone and autonomously on individual projects adapt to collaborative projects and publicly engaged arts and community-based scholarship? One answer is to identify the disciplinary values we want to hold onto and to integrate those values when collaborative scholarship holds promise. The University of Iowa’s Obermann Center for Advanced Studies offers one case study. Like many humanities centers, the Obermann Center strives to balance a commitment to support faculty and graduate arts, research, and scholarship with the demands and opportunities for higher education in a public university in the 21st century.