Martine Brownley understands the difficulties faced by the humanities
in 21st century education.
We are in a technological, scientific and professional society,
said Brownley, Goodrich C. White Professor of English and Winship Distinguished
Research Professor. The humanities often take a back seat. I dont
think they get the attention they deserve, either in the larger culture
or at Emory.
That may be true as far as the larger culture is concerned, but Emory
has stepped up to address humanities education on campus with the creation
this summer of the Center for Humanistic Inquiry (CHI), with Brownley
as its first director.
The arts and sciences are the core of a liberal arts education,
and the humanities are central to those, Brownley said.
Slated to become fully operational in fall 2002, CHI currently is in the
organization and pre-planning phase. Once CHI fully gels, however, the
campus will see a stark difference in humanities education.
The center will offer four senior fellowships to Emory professors and
three junior and postdoctoral fellowships, which will be selected from
candidates from both Emory and outside the University. Junior fellows
cannot be more than 10 years beyond their doctorates. Brownley added that
she hopes to offer three or four graduate fellowships as well,
but they have not been finalized yet.
The residential fellows will be the core of the CHI, Brownley said. They
will have their own research budgets, so they will be able to conduct
individual research, but they also will be asked to help with CHI programming.
According to Brownley, We [will] expect them to contribute to the
intellectual life of the humanities.
Applications for the fellowships should be available by the end of November,
and the fellows will be announced in the spring.
In addition to offering the fellowships, the center plans to organize
humanities-themed programming (conferences, lectures, seminars and the
like), beginning with a panel discussion this spring to address the difficulties
humanities scholars face in a publishing world that is increasingly focusing
on other disciplines.
Brownley also wants to coordinate humanities endeavors with other organizations
inside the college (the Center for Teaching and Curriculum and the Institute
for Comparative and International Studies, to name just two) as well as
among the professional schools, which sometimes do not have particularly
close ties to humanities education on campus.
Its not that Emory doesnt have many wonderful programs,
Brownley said. Its just that they tend to pile on each other.
We hope not only to be an intellectual clearinghouse but also a clearinghouse
for coordination of programs.
Brownley also plans to reach out to the Atlanta community with a series
of public initiatives to promote the humanities.
Until the center is assigned space next year, it is being run out of Brownleys
office in the Callaway Center. Throughout its first few months of existence,
the center has kept a very low profile. Its website, for instance (www.emory.edu/COLLEGE/CHI),
consists of just one line announcing the page as the centers future
home. Eventually CHI will boast not only a comprehensive website, but
its physical space will house the fellows offices, administrative
offices and programming.
The creation of CHI has been a long time in the making. Last year, then-Dean
Steve Sanderson, and his counterpart in the Graduate School of Arts and
Sciences, Bobby Paul (now interim dean of Emory College), formed a committee
to study humanistic inquiry in the arts and sciences at Emory. That committee
of college professors produced a report that outlined the structure of
CHI, and several of its members remain on CHIs executive committee.
In early May, without a lot of fanfare (since the center was not far beyond
the drawing board), Sanderson announced CHIs creation. At the end
of the month, Brownley, who was a member of the planning committee, was
invited to take over as director. In addition to the executive committee,
an advisory board of faculty members from across the University is being
The idea of a humanities center is not a new one. Several universities
have them and part of the planning behind Emorys involves researching
others as well as tracking trends in the field.
What people are trying to figure out is where are the humanities
going, said CHI program assistant Keith Anthony. We dont
believe they are in any sort of crisis, but there is a new atmosphere.
The humanities are alive and well and we need to find out what our role
Brownley has quite a bit of experience directing programs. For instance,
she led the Institute for Womens Studies from 1992 to 1996. CHI,
though, represents the first time in her more than 25 years at Emory that
she has led a program from the start.
It takes a very different kind of creativity to originate something,
Brownley said. You have to organize the programs in a different
way and get people involved in a different way. In an ongoing program,
you have most of the people already in place.