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Programs in the Public Humanities

In 2013, the UF Center for the Humanities and the Public Sphere (CHPS) launched its new grants for Programs in the Public Humanities. The Public Humanities grant opportunity, supported by the CHPS Rothman Endowment, encourages and enhances collaboration between the University of Florida and individuals, groups, and organizations in the community by offering grants up to $3,000 to support public programs rooted in one or more of the humanities disciplines. By drawing on expertise from UF and community partners as co-applicants, these public humanities projects create new and exciting opportunities for collaboration between the university and multiple community organizations. Furthermore, these projects encourage community building, cultural understanding, and personal reflection on the values and experiences that connect us together as neighbors, colleagues, and community members to create a civil and morally responsible society. Through projects like these, the Center for Humanities and the Public Sphere seeks to promote broad civic engagement with the communities in which we live and teach.

2019-2020 Public Humanities Grants
2017-2018 Public Humanities Grants
2016-2017 Public Humanities Grants
2015-2016 Public Humanities Grants
2014-2015 Public Humanities Grants


2019-2020 Public Humanities Grants

Stephanie Birch (African American Studies Librarian, George A. Smathers Libraries) and Dr. Jacob Gordon (Chair, Alachua County African American History Task Force)

“Digital Collaborations on Black History in Florida Project”

This Libraries’ project team in partnership with the Alachua County African American History Task Force seeks to explore a new approach to transformative collaboration between Black community organizations in North Florida and the George A. Smathers Libraries. The purpose of the project is to cultivate new relationships with community organizations that are already engaged in localized historic preservation and programming. Through these new relationships for digital collaborations, the Libraries’ project team will enhance the online visibility of local Black histories and improve access to technological equipment and open-source digital humanities tools. Funds are requested to support a two-day workshop, Digital Collaborations on Black History in Florida, presented by the Libraries in July 2019 and attended by representatives from Black community organizations in North Florida.


Dr. Maria Coady (Bilingual Education, College of Education)and Susana Cordova Martin (Coral Way Elementary School), Ileana Fuentes (Founding Director, The American Museum of the Cuban Diaspora), Bess de Farber, Brittany Kester, Perry Collins (Smathers Libraries)

“Revealing a Hidden History: The Coral Way Elementary School Bilingual Experiment (1962 to 1968)”

A partnership between the College of Education, Bilingual Education Program, the George A. Smathers Libraries, staff members at Coral Way Elementary School, and the American Museum of the Cuban Diaspora, presented two programs to reveal the previously hidden story documenting the history of the first public bilingual school in the country. The project team held: a) an Inservice presentation and open dialog at Coral Way Elementary School for faculty and staff; and b) a public presentation and discussion at the American Museum of the Cuban Diaspora. The programs were conceived by the two partners which are situated in the southwest Miami neighborhood bounded by Coral Way, 19th Street and 12th Avenue, approximately 15 blocks east of Calle Ocho, the heart of Miami’s Cuban community.


2017-2018 Public Humanities Grants


Gainesville Underground Theatre Festival (GUTFest)

Matthew Bratko (Acting), Natasha Home (GUTFest), Tyler Francischine (Health), and Dominic Henry (GUTFest)

The Gainesville Under Ground Theatre Festival is an exploration of identity, history, philosophy, and language via a plethora of live mediums such as dance, theatre, music, installations, film screenings, literary readings, panel discussions and workshops. The festival aims to spark dialogues about what it means to exist in this city, culture, society and time by bringing performers and audiences together into artistic hubs of expression.
Read GUTFest project description

Tracing the Tide: Seahorse Key Marine Laboratory Oral History Project

Val Leitner (Oral History Consultant) and UF Collaborator

In partnership with the Samuel Proctor Oral History Program, oral histories and archival documents associated the Seahorse Key Marine Lab will be conducted and preserved. The project seeks to integrate the history of Seahorse Key into the local history of Cedar Key. The public will be able to view materials at several open house events and through the project’s social media presence.
Read Tracing the Tide project description

Graphic Sequential Art in Motion & Stirring Public Dialogues: Orchestrating Encounters between Two Global Comic Artists and their Cities, Gainesville & Kinshasa

Prof. Nancy Hunt (Department of History) and Tom Hart (Sequential Artists Workshop)

A Public Humanities Grant will fund an intercultural encounter between internationally recognized Congolese comic artist Papa Mfumu’eto and Tom Hart, an award-winning comic artist and founder of Gainesville’s Sequential Artists Workshop. Papa Mfumu’eto and Tom Hart will lead sequential arts workshops with students at Eastside High School, culminating in a comics art show installation at the Sequential Arts Workshop held in tandem with the 17th Carter Conference of the Center for African Studies.
Read Graphic Sequential Art in Motion & Stirring Public Dialogues project description


2016-2017 Public Humanities Grants


The Seed Cabinet

Katerie Gladdys (Art and Art History), Anna Prizzia (UF Food Systems Coordinator), and Peggy Macdonald (Matheson History Museum)

In partnership with the Matheson History Museum, the Seed Cabinet – a movable public exhibit – will be on display across the north central Florida region from September to May 2017. The Seed Cabinet is interactive exhibit combining history, photographs, video, and physical seeds which seeks to inspire a personal connection to local agriculture.
Read The Seed Cabinet project description

Who Started the Beef?

Gabrielle Bynam (Hippodrome Theatre), Jeffery Pufahl (Center for the Arts and Medicine), and David Ballard (Gainesville Parks, Recreation, and Cultural Affairs Department)

In partnership with the Hippodrome Theatre and the Gainesville Parks, Recreation, and Culture Department, twenty-five students from underserved areas of Gainesville will participate in a two-week theatre intensive (June 25th – August 8th) based on Shakespeare’s Romeo & Juliet. Students will study and analyze the play, as well as perform a 30-minute version in several venues across Gainesville. The goal for the intensive is to train students in alternatives to violence through artistic mediation.
Read Who Started the Beef? project description

Refugees in Film

Esther Romeyn (Center for European Studies) and Richard Macmaster (Interfaith Alliance for Immigrant Justice)

In collaboration with the Interfaith Alliance for Immigrant Justice, Refugees in Film – a four part film series showcased in the Hippodrome Theatre – will examine the historical, representational, and political issues swirling around the current European refugee crisis. The series seeks to place the current crisis in a wider context and highlight the importance of interdisciplinary humanistic thinking on contemporary social problems.
Read Refugees in Film project description

River of Life, River of Dreams: Springs, Fish Camps, and Old Florida Environmentalism along the St. Johns River

Prof. Whitney Sanford (Religion) and Peggy Macdonald (Matheson History Museum)

In partnership with the Matheson History Museum, River of Life, River of Dreams – a public exhibit hosted by the Matheson – will explore the complex relationships between the St. Johns River and those who depend on it. The exhibit will initiate discussions about the health of the St. Johns by placing contemporary environmental challenges in historical and cultural context.
Read River of Life, River of Dreams project description


2015-2016 Public Humanities Grants


Emancipation Day/Juneteenth Exhibit

UF Department of English (Randi Gill-Sadler) and N’kwanda Jah (Cultural Arts Coalition)

In partnership with the Samuel Proctor Oral History Program and the Cone Park Library, a public exhibit took place celebrating and informing the Gainesville community about the history and cultural importance of the Juneteenth/Emancipation Day holidays. Both days commemorate the end of slavery after the Civil War in 1865 and with the assistance of a Public Humanities Grant the exhibit explored the history of these holidays in Florida and how they are remembered by local African-American communities in Gainesville. (Exhibition dates: June 1, 2015- June 2oth, 2015)
Read Emancipation Day/Juneteenth Exhibit project description

Teaching Creative Writing Across Cultures

Department of Urban/Regional Planning (Ferdinand Lewis) and Prayers by Faith Ministries (Pastor Gerard Duncan)

In partnership with the Gainesville Department of Parks and Recreation, a three-day workshop took place to train five teachers from the Gainesville and University of Florida communities in cultural competencies for teaching creative writing to teens in marginalized and underserved communities. With the assistance of a Public Humanities Grant, these workshops were organized to enrich the Mentor to Mentor after school program in East Gainesville by training culturally competent creative writing teachers and to strengthen the bond between the University of Florida and the East Gainesville community through common engagement in the humanities. (Workshop dates: June 11th, 2015 – June 13th, 2015).
Read Teaching Creative Writing Across Cultures project description


2014-2015 Public Humanities Grants


“The Heart of a Culture: the Santos of Xavier Colón” Exhibition

UF University Galleries (Amy Vigilante) and City of Gainesville, Parks, Recreation and Cultural Affairs Department (Russell Etling)

The University Galleries has partnered with the City of Gainesville, Parks, Recreation and Cultural Affairs Department to create a major new exhibition on the Santos carvings of artist Xavier Colón. Santos are hand-carved religious artifacts that play an important role in the cultural identity of Puerto Rico. This CHPS public humanities grant will support the development of a full-color catalogue that will provide historical, religious and cultural context to the exhibition and be freely distributed to exhibition visitors. (Exhibition dates: Sept. 27, 2014 – Jan. 3, 2015 in the Thomas Center’s Main Gallery).

Gainesville Modern Architectural Film Series

Gainesville Modern (David Forest) and the UF School of Architecture (Martin Gold)

In partnership with the UF School of Architecture, Gainesville Modern will produce a film series that both celebrates Gainesville’s cultural legacy of Modernist architecture and reflects how more modernist, sustainable urban design will benefit Gainesville in the future. With sponsorship from a CHPS public humanities grant, the series will include three film screenings (Citizen Architect, Coast Modern, People Who Live In Glass Houses) followed by moderated discussions. A panel of experts in the field will facilitate discussion via public forums.
Read Gainesville Modern Architectural Film Series project description

Race, Class, and Gender in the Panama Canal Zone: An Original Play and Discussion

Deborah B. Dickey (Playwright and Director), the Panama Canal Museum Collection at UF Smathers Libraries (Rebecca Fitzsimmons)

The University of Florida Smathers Libraries, Alachua County School District, and playwright/director Deborah Dickey have collaborated to write and produce an original play that explores the lives of women in the Panama Canal Zone during its construction. Utilizing the resources in the UF Latin American Collection and the Panama Canal Museum Collection, the play will focus on the racial, gender and cultural segregation in Panama from 1900-1914. This CHPS public humanities grant will support a public staged reading at the Acrosstown Repertory Theatre, a post-show public discussion, an educational outreach event, and scenes performed for English classes in the Alachua County School District.
Read Race, Class, and Gender in the Panama Canal Zone project description

Exploring Local Diversity and African Traditions: A Community Storytelling Series

Samuel Proctor Oral History Program (Paul Ortiz) and Yopp! Inc. (Bethany Hunter)

In partnership with the UF Department of History, Yopp! Inc. and the Samuel Proctor Oral History Program will host a ten-month storytelling series at the Union Academy/Rosa B. Williams Recreation Center. The series will celebrate diversity within Gainesville and promote our rich cultural heritage through sharing many African traditions and stories. With a CHPS public humanities grant, the series will foster dialogue in our local and global community by hosting professional storytelling sessions after school and on weekends for four hours a month. Community members will be actively invited to share their own stories alongside planned events.
Read Exploring Local Diversity and African Traditions project description