In September 2015 Janet Ward, Professor of History, was invited by the Senior Vice President and Provost Kyle Harper at the University of Oklahoma to serve as the inaugural Faculty Director of the campus-wide OU Humanities Forum, a brand new Provost-Direct unit co-supported by the Office of the Vice President for Research and the College of Arts and Sciences, along with additional support from the Office of the President and the OU Libraries.
The role of the OU Humanities Forum is dedicated to the public sphere—we aim to help raise the visibility, prominence, and relevance for faculty research and teaching in the humanities. Humanistic projects essentially boil down to the following: what does it mean to be human? What are our human values? How do we record and critique the human experience, not just in our contemporary era but through the ages? These are the basic questions asked in the study of history, philosophy, art, literature, religion, architecture, language, music, and film, as well as in related fields. In so doing we acquire collaborative and interdisciplinary skills that connect us better to the cultural heritage of the past, enable us to come up with innovative ideas as citizens of our present world, and help imagine a better future on local and global scales.
“The Humanities and the Environment”: The First OU Humanities Forum Theme, 2015-2016
One of the first things the OU Humanities Forum has introduced is a series of Forum Grants awarded to a cohort of faculty working on the center’s annual theme – for 2015-2016 it’s “The Humanities and the Environment.” The Forum’s Faculty Advisory Committee selects the faculty each year whose project applications best suit the theme. The OU Forum fellows will help lead a series of events this coming spring semester for OU faculty, students, and the general public, in which we showcase cutting-edge projects on the environment. There’ll be a special focus on climate ethics, urban environmental change, the landscape of the American West, indigenous environmental justice, the 5th anniversary of Fukushima (as well as the 30th anniversary of Chernobyl), as well as the visual, musicological, and racial dimensions of environmental topics.