Patio Conversations

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On each full day of the Annual Meeting, we will offer informal conversations facilitated by our members on topics of mutual interest. What are your programmatic priorities as a humanities center director or staff member? What attendees would you like to meet and form a connection with? What topics do you see underrepresented in our conference program?

These conversations will take place at the conference venue during either breakfast or lunch. We encourage you to view the conversation series from last year's Annual Meeting here. Also note that there will be sessions during the conference program devoted to humanities administration and best practices, as well as sessions from select CHCI Networks, including the CHCI Public Humanities Network and the CHCI Critical Humanities Spaces Network.

Proposal Submissions

Deadline: May 20, 2024

To submit a proposal for a Patio Conversation, please provide a title and a description of 200 words max along with the names, positions, and institutions of the facilitators. We recommend 1-2 facilitators per conversation. You are welcome to state your preference on the date and time of your conversation and we will try our best to accommodate. We envision this program as non-competitive and we will try and create the space for all who wish to facilitate a conversation. Please email your proposal to by May 20, 2024. We will update the schedule below with accepted proposals as we receive and schedule them.


We will update the schedule as we receive proposals, and will include the full conversation descriptions below in chronological order. Please note that the schedule may shift after the proposal deadline of May 20.

Wednesday, May 29 breakfast

  • Humanities Centers and NEH, John D. Cox

Wednesday, May 29 lunch

  • CHCI Initiatives Q&A, Guillaume Ratel
  • Humanities Centers and Centering the Humanities, Paul Fleming and Carla Freeman
  • LGBTQ+ Affinity Group, Dean Allbritton and Aaron Fai

Thursday, May 30 breakfast

  • Reimagining the Western Humanities Alliance, Jim Ellis and Jena Turner

Thursday, May 30 lunch

  • Health and Medical Humanities, CHCI Health and Medical Humanities Network
  • Critical Humanities Spaces Network

Humanities Centers and NEH

Wednesday, May 29 breakfast session

John D. Cox, Senior Program Officer, NEH

For over fifty years, the National Endowment for the Humanities has provided funding to the nation’s colleges and universities. NEH continues to support scholars engaged in humanities research and education and to fund work in preservation, public engagement, the digital humanities, and many other areas. NEH funds work throughout the humanities, but what are the particular opportunities for engagement between NEH and humanities centers and institutes?

This patio conversation hopes to address this question in two distinct directions. For one, the session will provide information about specific NEH funding opportunities and grant programs of particular interest to humanities centers and institutes. In addition, however, NEH staff would like to hear from faculty, staff, and administrators about the challenges faced by CHCI members and the role NEH could play in addressing those challenges. That is, what other kinds of humanities activities would you like to see NEH fund, and what else could NEH do to support your work beyond funding specific programs and activities?

CHCI Initiatives Q&A

Wednesday, May 29 lunch session

Guillaume Ratel, CHCI Executive Director

The transformation of CHCI’s flagship research program marks a significant leap forward in our collective endeavor to champion and facilitate global humanities research, addressing urgent global challenges, and reorienting the mission of universities worldwide. Please join representatives from the CHCI Advisory Board’s Strategic Priorities Committee to discuss the finer points of the call for proposals and application timeline.

Humanities Centers and Centering the Humanities

Wednesday, May 29 lunch session

Paul Fleming, Cornell Society for the Humanities
Carla Freeman, Fox Center for Humanistic Inquiry, Emory

As the relevance of the humanities continues to be debated within universities and beyond, and enrollments, majors, and external research funding are at the forefront of most institutions' metrics, what role should humanities centers and institutes play in these discussions? The humanities are structured and supported in numerous ways across universities: within separate schools, departments, and programs, centers, institutes, etc. Faculty appointments and graduate and undergraduate curricula are most often the purview of deans, departments, and programs, while public outreach, fellowship programs, and interdisciplinary humanistic initiatives are anchored in centers and institutes. Whether budgets are administered centrally or independently poses differential challenges and affordances. What role can and should centers and institutes play to enhance the work of the humanities within departments and programs, and how can we also offer something altogether different—purposeful venues for interdisciplinary and collaborative research, new methodological innovations, etc.

This patio conversation is an effort to explore the challenges and highlight new models for fostering humanities research, collaborations, engagement, support, programming and outreach. We welcome your ideas and participation.

    LGBTQ+ Affinity Group

    Wednesday, May 29 lunch session

    Dean Allbritton, Colby College
    Aaron Fai, CHCI

    Join us for casual conversation and the opportunity to make connections. We will additionally plan an informal evening outing during the conference, possibly to the nearby White Horse Inn, one of the oldest gay bars in the United States.

    Reimagining the Western Humanities Alliance

    Thursday, May 30 breakfast session

    Jim Ellis, Director, Calgary Institute for the Humanities
    Jena Turner, Associate Director, Oregon Humanities Center

    The Western Humanities Alliance is a consortium of humanities centres and institutes in the western United States and Canada, founded in 1982 as a forum for interdisciplinary exchange. Over the years, member institutes have hosted the annual meeting and conference, and published a special issue of the conference proceedings in the Western Humanities Review. Given the changes in the past 40 years, the time has come to rethink the purpose of the organization, in order to better serve our member institutions. Is there a role for a regionally focussed organization, that might identify common research interests, establish research networks, serve as a platform for the discussion of administrative issues, or host conferences on issues of importance to the west: water, indigenous rights and sovereignty, resource-based economies, and so on.

    Health and Medical Humanities

    Thursday, May 30 lunch session

    Kathryn A. Rhine, University of Colorado School of Medicine, CU-Anschutz Medical Campus
    Director of Arts & Humanities in Healthcare, Center for Bioethics and Humanities, Associate Professor, Division of General Internal Medicine

    Hester E. Oberman, University of Arizona; Lecturer and Fellow
    Religious Studies and Classics; Religious Studies for Health Professionals
    W. A. Franke Honors College; Health and Human Values Minor

    The CHCI Health and Medical Humanities Network enthusiastically invites directors, scholars, and professionals from diverse backgrounds to join us for an enriching patio conversation. We extend a warm welcome to those passionate about fostering interdisciplinary collaborations between the humanities and health sciences. Our global network fosters groundbreaking research and collaboration across over 30 member institutions, forging meaningful connections between the humanities, clinical and public health practice, and local communities worldwide. The field of health and medical humanities has grown rapidly in recent years, giving rise to new interdisciplinary programs at the undergraduate and graduate level, as well as dedicated research centers. During our patio gathering, we will discuss models for and examples of cross-disciplinary research on the ways in which the humanities can inform and transform healthcare, health, and wellbeing. We will also explore innovative approaches to integrating the humanities and health sciences in teaching and practice. And collectively, we will identify opportunities for new partnerships that advance research and education. We warmly invite you to contribute your perspectives as we envision transformative ways to enrich healthcare and elevate community wellbeing through the lens of the humanities.

    Critical Humanities Spaces Network

    Thursday, May 30 lunch session

    Prior to our session, please join us over lunch on 12:15-1:15, to learn about our network and to join us in a new initiative: the inauguration of an open ended conversation series across hemispheres and the varied natures of our institutions, on the creation of critical humanities spaces in our centers and institutes. In our lunch session, we would want to interact on exactly what such a conversation would look like. We will give details on our fall event, Rethinking Utopia: Spaces of Radical Reimagining, to be held at the Center for Research on the Arts and Languages at the School of Advanced Studies in the Social Sciences (EHESS), in person and online. To view recordings of our public conversations to date, please visit our webpage.