The Graduate Certificate in the Engaged & Public Humanities was a non-credit program offered by Georgetown’s Graduate School of Arts and Sciences in Washington, DC from June 21–23, 2018.

The program began with a robust introduction to the core questions in public humanities scholarship. We used these as our springboard for a wider discussion of how the humanities can address interdisciplinary challenges that confront society today. After developing a foundation in the theory and methods of public humanities scholarship, we conducted site visits that brought theory to practice in the world of foundations, public events planning, and employers. Day three was devoted to issues of employment for humanities practitioners, in the context of a Career Expo that offered opportunities for both interviewing and resume development.  

The hallmark of humanities disciplines is the ability to absorb a body of complex knowledge and then put it into play to develop alternative imagined futures. Advanced humanities students become critical thinkers, skillful communicators, and apt interpreters of complex systems. The Graduate Certificate in the Engaged & Public Humanities aimed to deepen understanding of these habits of mind, strengthening the ability to articulate and communicate humanities values and skills to potential employers.

Questions that the in-person seminars addressed include the following:

  • What is the value of the humanities in creating a sustainable, interconnected future?
  • What role can those with advanced training in the humanities play in solving challenges as varied as climate change, mass incarceration, mass migration, and economic inequality?
  • Why is the concept of “public humanities” crucial to the proper functioning of a democracy?  
  • What habits of thought, methods, and practices do advanced humanities students have to offer the public sphere?

Sessions focused on the potential for putting the humanities to use in public-facing roles. We looked at how Washington, DC has become a center for humanities activities, playing host to a wealth of agencies, non-profits, libraries, and other entities that value humanities training in their employees. Site visits included the Library of Congress, the Folger Shakespeare Library, and a local think-tank, the Center of Concern. 

The program culminated in a Career Expo for Humanities Scholars, which was preceded by panel discussions on careers beyond academia and mentoring sessions on developing appropriate skills. The Expo then sought to bring together humanities graduates throughout the DC area with employers in a variety of sectors interested in hiring humanities scholars. A non-credit certificate was awarded to all participants who complete all three days of the Institute.

A sample of the required readings:

  • Brooks, Peter. “The Humanities as an Export Commodity.” Profession 32.1 (2008): 33–39.
  • Jay, Gregory. “The Engaged Humanities: Principles and Practices for Public Scholarship and Teaching.” Journal of Community Engagement and Scholarship 3.1 (2010): 51–63.
  • Warner, Michael. “Publics and Counterpublics.” Public Culture 14.1 (2002): 49–90.