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About the Center

Founded in 2005 and launched in 2009, the Center for the Humanities and the Public Sphere in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences at the University of Florida is directed by Dr. Barbara Mennel, Associate Professor of English and German. The Center has three interrelated purposes:

  • to facilitate and promote the research programs of humanities scholars* at UF,
  • to provide an intellectual space and a physical location within the University and College of Liberal Arts and Sciences for critical and collaborative discussions of the humanities that reach across and beyond individual disciplines, and
  • to provide a place for outreach to the community in which we live and teach.

Building on the work of individual departments, the Center for the Humanities and the Public Sphere emphasizes collaboration and critical discussion as its basic program models.

The humanities allow us to explore the question: what does it mean to be human? They include efforts to understand, evaluate, and communicate human experiences, values, and aspirations to improve the human condition. Through comparative and global study, humanities scholars foster in students and communities a critical concern for civic and moral responsibility. While the humanities have traditionally flourished in the disciplines of history, philosophy, literatures, and languages, they inform every inquisitive endeavor.


**LISTEN to National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) Chairman Jon Parrish Peede discuss the work of the Center for the Humanities and the Public Sphere.**


*The Center uses a definition adapted from the National Foundation on the Arts and the Humanities Act of 1965 as the basis for determining the eligibility of proposed projects:

“The humanities include, but are not limited to, the following fields: history, philosophy, languages, literature, linguistics, archeology, jurisprudence, history and criticism of the arts, ethics, comparative religion, and those aspects of the social sciences employing historical or philosophical approaches. This last category includes social and cultural anthropology, sociology, political theory, international relations, and other subjects concerned with questions of value.”