Humanities CenterThe Humanities Center in the College of Humanities and Fine Arts was founded in 1999. Its mission was to stimulate the life of the mind both among the faculty of the College and in the university and community at large, by creating and nurturing an interdisciplinary intellectual culture of ideas. Towards that end it chooses each year a theme to explore and invites prominent outside scholars to speak on topics related to this theme. The Center has been successful in bringing eight Presidential Scholars to campus, including philosophers Richard Rorty and Martha Nussbaum, historians Anthony Grafton, Edward J. Larson, and James McPherson, novelist Richard Powers, architect and writer Witold Rybczynski, and aesthetician Elaine Scarry. It has also brought to campus for talks and seminars dozens of other well known literary critics, writers, poets, historians, and philosophers, most recently, for example, literary critic/poet Sandra Gilbert and science writer Rebecca Skloot. In addition the Humanities Center sponsors a Friday Symposia series for faculty members to present their research, as well as a Thursday Tertulia series for more informal talks, debates, and panel discussions.
Although designed primarily for HFA faculty and supported by the HFA College, the Humanities Center has reached out occasionally to faculty in other colleges in the University when the theme allowed it. During academic year 2003-2004, for instance, members of the College of Natural Science participated in the Science and the Aesthetic Imagination theme. Due to community interest in its activities, the Humanities Center has also raised $29,000 in outside funding.
Many of these events take place in the pleasant atmosphere of Trinity 126, which the College remodeled as an elegant library/seminar room. No mention of the Humanities Center would be complete without adding that it also shelters and supports the Humanities Center Gallery, which has become one of the premier venues for art in the North State, and the University Film Series where faculty, students, and members of the community have the opportunity to see rare and interesting films that go unscreened by the area's commercial theaters.
In the past eleven years the Humanities Center, which is the only one of its kind in the entire CSU system, has become an important and indispensable part of the intellectual life on this campus.