Welcome to IDEAS. 

IDEAS is a new platform for CHCI, reflecting the current state of the Consortium. 

CHCI always has been devoted to ideas—new and old, familiar and strange—opening a rare space in which experimentation in institutional forms and forms of knowledge overlaps. Over the past ten years, the exchange of ideas at CHCI also has shifted from taking place almost exclusively at the Consortium’s annual meeting to becoming a vital and regular part of the organization, which now includes cross-institutional collaborations, multiple interterm research institutes, and various networks that establish their own rhythms of exchange. Through this transformation, the institutional and intellectual forms represented by CHCI continue to multiply. In presenting the work of CHCI, IDEAS is designed to ensure that CHCI’s contributions to the humanities circulate across and beyond the Consortium. While IDEAS is a new platform for CHCI, it also returns to the vision of a much earlier initiative: the CHCI Working Papers Series, which fleetingly appeared in 2001. The two essays in the series, by Ien Ang and J. Paul Hunter, ask questions that remain relevant to CHCI’s work. We are pleased to republish them here and revisit their provocations.

Today, centers and institutes on six continents belong to the Consortium. These members, sometimes under difficult conditions, experiment with new models, create frameworks in which concepts can be tested, and support methods, whether mainstream or subterranean, to address wide-ranging topics, including translation, health, migration, belief, and the presence of the past, among many others. Individually and in collaboration these centers and institutes establish a place where urgent institutional questions, even those that compel a complete overhaul of the status quo, can be asked. Our members are rethinking the nature of doctoral education and academic publication, and they are on the frontlines, in multiple world regions, of articulating the value of the humanities and liberal arts. To do this work, they are developing projects and programs that recast conventional models of research, publication, and study. They also are defending models of research in archives and local languages that are increasingly at risk. IDEAS will feature this work of CHCI’s individual members, each in their own way supporting scholarship, engagement, and teaching in the humanities.

IDEAS also will highlight the work of the multiple cross-institutional partnerships that have become core to the Consortium. These collaborations, which often exist across significant geographical, linguistic, and intellectual differences, simultaneously bolster and redefine the institutional and intellectual forms of the humanities. Many of the contributions to IDEAS develop directly out of significant grants from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, which allowed CHCI to establish a new program for international collaborative research in the humanities. These grants continue to have a transformative effect on the Consortium, and to date have led to the formation of four large scale experiments in integrated, collaborative research. Three of the projects focused on interdisciplinary themes — “Humanities for the Environment,” “Religion, Secularism, and Political Belonging,” and “Medical Humanities” – and a fourth project established a collaborative, international model for graduate training in the humanities. While CHCI has supported the creation of several individual websites to represent these collaborations, in bringing the projects together, IDEAS shows how CHCI’s projects connect to one another and display the diversity of methods, concepts, and forms that have been cultivated through our network. In other words, in bringing these projects together and presenting them as elements CHCI’s project, IDEAS represents the promise of CHCI and the value of international, interdisciplinary collaboration for the humanities. 

And this is only the beginning. We hope that member centers and institutes, individually and in collaboration, will adopt IDEAS as a forum through which to circulate examples of the scholarship that they support and the programs that they develop. Finally, we hope that taken together this work will represent the possibility of the humanities and the importance of humanities centers and institutes as sites of intervention and exchange.