Introducing CHCI Initiatives

Initiatives is CHCI's new and expansive framework that marks a significant leap forward in our consortium's collective endeavor to champion and facilitate global humanities research, address urgent global challenges, and reorient the mission of universities worldwide. Read our introductory letter to the CHCI membership below and explore the call for participation. We will host two Initiatives online information sessions in the second half of September 2024.

Dear CHCI Members,

We are at a pivotal moment in the evolution of the Consortium of Humanities Centers and Institutes (CHCI), as we prepare to transition our flagship program, the Global Humanities Institutes (GHIs), into a new and expansive framework: the CHCI Initiatives. This transformation 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.

Final GHI and the Launch of CHCI Initiatives

The 2025 GHI Indigenous Mobilities, Tourism, and Racial Capitalism will be the final iteration of the Global Humanities Institutes, concluding a successful era of focused, international research collaboration. Since their inception in 2018, GHIs have played a crucial role in fostering interdisciplinary approaches and multinational partnerships, tackling global challenges from climate justice to migrations and beyond. The decision to evolve GHIs into CHCI Initiatives stems from our learned experiences and a desire to broaden participation, making international humanities research more accessible, diverse, and impactful.

CHCI Initiatives: A New Call for Participation

The upcoming CHCI Initiatives represent a broader commitment to specific issues or themes, which will guide our research and activities annually. Unlike GHIs, the new call under CHCI Initiatives is not a call for proposals, but for participation. This opens the door for all interested CHCI members to join Consortium-wide initiatives, whether or not their projects apply for and receive CHCI funding. The inaugural call for participation will be published at our annual meeting, where we will also present and discuss this innovative model.

Consortium-wide Themes and Collaboration

In our pilot year, we will focus on two predetermined, common themes, around which collaboration will occur. The selected themes reflect our collective ambition to address grand challenges through a humanities lens, from climate change and digital transformation to democracy, migrations, and inequality. Themes will be chosen to address big ideas that are central to the humanities and humanistic ways of thinking. The themes will be capacious and inclusive, a big tent approach that actively encourages multiple ways of addressing any given theme.

This approach not only unifies our efforts but also fosters a global conversation on these pivotal issues. By clustering around an annual focal theme, the Initiatives will serve as the shared intellectual backbone that ties in CHCI members more intimately to the annual conference. The annual themes will be integrated into the programming of the CHCI Annual Meeting and thus Initiative participants will be invited to present outcomes, ideas, and insights at the conference. Here too we aim to include ever greater participation of CHCI members in the conference.

Funding and Support

While the GHIs typically supported one or two large-scale projects annually, CHCI Initiatives will enable us to support a larger number of projects, though they may be smaller and shorter in duration. While the awards amounts will be smaller, this will allow CHCI to greatly increase the number of awards and thus the participation of CHCI members. The goal is to further democratize the access to research networks and funding as well as for members to propose CHCI Initiatives that work for the size of their institutes and centers. This model allows for more flexible and inclusive participation, engaging a wider array of humanities centers and institutes in our global network.

Looking Ahead

Part of the goal of this pivot is to provide CHCI members, both those in the new CHCI Initiatives and all others (via the annual conference), a set of ideas as to why the humanities matter, examples for the ways in which the humanities can address crucial topics, and thus a number of tools and talking points to advocate for the humanities back home. Through this pivot to the Initiatives model, CHCI can better serve as a “humanities core” that supports research as wide as possible and disseminates ideas from that research, helping directors advocate to new audiences (administrators, legislators, etc.)

As we transition to this new model, we invite all CHCI members to engage with us in this exciting next phase of our journey. The CHCI Initiatives aim to harness the rich potential within our global humanities community, ensuring that our collective knowledge and resources have a significant impact on the world's pressing challenges.

We look forward to sharing more details at our upcoming annual meeting and invite you to join us in this transformative endeavor.