Center for Humanities Research
George Mason University

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Alison Landsberg Professor, History

Associate Director

Catherine Olien


Vision Much of the work undertaken by scholars in the Humanities is solitary. And yet, Humanities research thrives when scholars engage in intellectual exchange.

The CHR is therefore premised on the model of the residential fellowship. Fellows, both faculty and graduate, will work at the Center. By enabling faculty to pursue their own independent research projects in the space of Center, in a dynamic intellectual environment, we expect synergies to emerge, synergies that will energize and advance each researcher’s own project, much like what happens at the most productive academic conferences.

Not only will the CHR serve as an incubator for humanities research and a space for scholarly exchange at Mason, fostering research partnerships and collaborations with various disciplines and units, but by collaborating with the many publicly supported cultural, policy, and educational institutions in the DMV, the CHR will demonstrate that research in the humanities is, by definition, “engaged scholarship” playing a crucial role in addressing society’s most pressing social, civic, political, and ethical challenges, including immigration and nationalism, the ethics of science and technology, and the persistence of inequalities rooted in class, race, gender and ability.

By demonstrating the humanities’ critical engagement with the world beyond academia’s walls, the CHR will make the case for a commitment to the ideal of knowledge as a shared and public good.

Goals The Center’s programming, with its rotating core of faculty fellows, students, and visiting scholars, will invigorate the intellectual culture on campus by increasing opportunities for Mason scholars pursuing humanities research to engage in research-related conversations and activities as part of a thriving community of scholars. It will foster interdisciplinary conversations with scholars outside the humanities, and with public institutions, such as the Smithsonian and the Library of Congress. The Center will support faculty and graduate, research in the Humanities and Humanities-related fields with in-residence, semester-long study leaves and small research grants, and will support undergraduates through regular symposia seminars. The Center will work to disseminate humanities scholarship to multiple audiences, including local, national, and international academic communities, as well as the non-academic public.
The Center will foster partnerships with existing Mason humanities organizations as well as state and federal humanities institutions across the DMV region. These partnerships will allow CHR to demonstrate the value of the humanities to stakeholders outside the university and to build strategic alliances that will provide transformative opportunities for our students.
Through all of the above activities, the Center will enhance the College of Humanities and Social Sciences’ prominence and reputation for facilitating cross-disciplinary engagement, help secure Mason’s continued R1 status, and play a key role in Mason’s emergence as a mature research university.