Integrative Graduate Humanities Education Research and Training (IGHERT)

An Initiative supported by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation

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IGHERT Canberra meeting, 2015
The IGHERT project brought together four CHCI-member organizations—at the University of California, Santa Cruz (Institute for Humanities Research); The University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee (Center for 21st Century Studies); Justus Liebig University, Giessen (International Graduate Centre for the Study of Culture); and Australian National University, Canberra (Humanities Research Centre)—to engage graduate students in a series of collaborative training and research activities to test, refine, and assess a scalable model of skill training and digital archiving that can be applied in multiple contexts and to multiple themes. The IGHERT program further aimed to attune the participants to the larger public contexts in which expert knowledge in the humanities is meaningful and to equip them with the written and oral skills necessary to communicate with these public constituencies more effectively.

The IGHERT collaboration focused on devising an international and collaborative mode of advising and training graduate researchers at the doctoral dissertation stage. Its pilot theme of “Indigeneity in an Expanded Field,” appropriate to the crossing of national boundaries built into the project plan, involved both a set of research investigations and cross-institutional collaborations on this specific theme. At the same time, the collaborators tested the IGHERT framework as one that might eventually be utilized by other teams with other themes. This dual focus—thematically specific for the pilot and structurally generic for the training framework—is a feature of the IGHERT project that distinguished it from other projects within Integrating Humanities across National Boundaries that had a primarily thematic focus.

UC Santa Cruz’s Institute for Humanities Research (IHR) was the designated project hub for IGHERT. The project website can be viewed here:  https://ighert.sites.ucsc.edu/

The IGHERT timeline included a plenary meeting for all collaborators to be hosted by each of the four centers in turn.

Each workshop included the following elements, expressed differently as appropriate to the location: 

  1. shared readings provided by the host center;
    IGHERT Santa Cruz meeting, 2014
  2. panels in which the graduate students had the opportunity to present their work;
  3. related conferences, talks, and exhibits showcasing locally embedded indigeneities (e.g., Ojibwe poetry and “Native” subjects in Milwaukee, Aboriginal art and its relationship to museums in Australia, etc.) and theoretical approaches to indigeneities prevalent in the host country and region;
  4. writing workshops in which the graduate students worked on particular problems in their dissertations with advisors from outside their discipline and/or location; and
  5. a training exercise in which the graduate students were filmed giving a pithy  “elevator speech” on their scholarship.

The first (Santa Cruz) plenary session/workshop (September 19-20, 2014) explored the project subtopic of “Stories / Memories / Histories” as aspects of indigeneity, introduced the researchers to the aims and activities the project as a whole, offered intensive opportunites for the researchers to get to know one another and each other’s research interests, and provided opportunities for the project group to plan subsequent events and collaborative communications in more detail. (The schedule of activities for this workshop was included in the first interim report.) 


IGHERT Canberra meeting, 2015
The second plenary meeting, hosted by Australia National University in Canberra  (August 10-14, 2015), demonstrated some of the innovative types of sessions that are inspired by the IGHERT collaboration, such as an interactive reading roundtable and a writing retreat; the subtopic was “Peoples / Migrations / Claims.” This workshop led to ongoing communications and even unplanned collaborative efforts between workshops, for instance a special study of theories of time with graduate students from Gießen and Santa Cruz, leading not only to changes in their dissertations but also plans for future projects and articles.

The theme of the third plenary meeting, which took place at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee (May 8-9, 2016), was “Human and Non-Human Belonging." At that meeting, IGHERT graduate students had the opportunity to participate in an associated conference, ““Landbody: Indigeneity’s Radical Commitments,” in which most of them gave presentations, and to interview in the campus television studio in which the students’ experience with filmed “elevator speech” exercises.  

IGHERT Santa Cruz meeting, 2014
The UW-Milwaukee meeting also piloted an intensive writing workshop in which the “dissertators” met with faculty advisers from the participating institutions that were not their own, to work on especially challenging “problem spots” in their narratives, thereby gaining new international and multidisciplinary perspectives as well as practical advice on dissertation-writing.

The final meeting, hosted by the Justus Liebig University, Gießen (November 14-17, 2016), focused on “Territories / Spaces / Environments” as these relate to the theme of indigeneity in Europe.  An opening session with Principal Investigator Ansgar Nünning shared theoretical approaches concerning the idea of “traveling” that are important to German scholarship and pertinent to the study of indigeneities.  Like the other IGHERT workshops, the meeting included intensive one-on-one advising sessions on the dissertations in progress and a filmed exercise in public communication of one’s scholarly work.