The Institute of the Humanities and Global Cultures
Located on the historic grounds of the University of Virginia established by three US Presidents two centuries ago, the Institute of the Humanities and Global Cultures (IHGC) fosters a community of scholars attuned to the global calling of the humanities in the twenty-first century. The humanities today are oriented toward generating new universals of human belonging as they negotiate vast terrains of cultural difference locally and globally. The ‘human’ in the humanities is indelibly colored by the ethnos of the global others, even as it strives to articulate its provenance through a language of the commons in the name of our planetary fragility and a post-human consciousness. This shift offers unprecedented opportunities to rethink the very fundamentals of our humanistic disciplines, a task that the IHGC undertakes in all earnest. The Institute’s mission gives new meaning to Thomas Jefferson’s founding vision for the University of Virginia as ‘the future bulwark of the human mind in this hemisphere.’
Supported by the Buckner Clay Endowment and the Mellon Foundation, the IHGC promotes research and experimental pedagogy on the Global South, Climate Change and the Environment, Human Rights and the Post-Human Turn, Media Ecologies and Technology, War, Violence and Humanitarianism, Comparative Religions, Pre-modern and Early Modern Global Cultures, and Oceanic Connections. The Institute hosts Laboratories that advance scholarship in these areas. Led by senior researchers, these labs foster vertical integration of undergraduate students, graduate students, faculty, librarians, curators, and technologists around teaching and research initiatives, while at the same time developing horizontal links across multiple disciplines, both cognate and distant. They engage with institutions, both nationally and internationally, and serve as critical sites for training undergraduate and graduate students to embrace the new exigencies of a complex and rapidly changing twenty-first century world, both productively (with complex collaborative intellectual and practical skills) and humanely (with nuanced intercultural knowledge and imagination).
In partnership with Centers around the world, the Institute assembles leading scholars to discuss the present state and future prospects of the humanities: methods of research and circumstances of teaching, institutional openings and constraints, self-assessments and proposals for new engagements. In 2015, UVA established the Academy of Global Humanities and Critical Theory, in collaboration with the University of Bologna and Duke University. The IHGC is UVA’s key facilitator in this collaborative venture. The Academy runs a highly successful summer institute that trains graduate students from around fifty-five countries, and that attracts distinguished faculty from around the world.
The humanities serve to define our world in myriad ways: through its intellectual and cultural aspirations, its aesthetic values, its comprehension of the past that formed it, and its political, ethical, and theological dilemmas. With an enduring commitment to the humanities as both a domain of research innovation and an idiom of institutional self-scrutiny, the IHGC seeks to play a meaningful role in shaping humanities scholarship on the global stage, and in fostering democratic cultures of learning locally and nationally.